Whenever a big calamity strikes mother earth, the kings and queens tend to hold one card close to their chests: food security. After all, it’s the one universal necessity that even the most tyrannic dictators can’t ignore.
Food supplies have often become a tool of war games too. Take the Siege of Leningrad, for instance. The Nazis had a cunning plan – starve the Soviets into submission. And, they almost succeeded, until the Soviets came up with their prestigious “Road of Life” through Lake Ladoga.
Fast forward to our present times, Russian President Vladimir Putin has cooked up his own version of a “Graindemic.” i.e. attempt to strangle Ukraine’s food shipments destined for Europe. But, West’s attempt to create a new ‘Road of Life’ is falling apart.
Putin Succeeds in Hunger Games
Bloomberg’s media report is painting a pretty grim picture. Russia’s blockade of Ukrainian Black Sea ports has actually destroyed a third of Ukraine’s crop exports.
Russia pulled out of the black sea grain deal back on July 17th and after that, Western powers attempted to create their own versions of alternative trade routes. EU even allocated $1bn to Ukraine to construct new trade routes via the Danube River. But, all in vain.
The Ukrainians went from exporting 4.8 million tons of grains, oils, and meals in May to 3.2 million tons in August. And the worst part is that these supplies are poised to shrink further very soon.
If you believe that that’s all, just hear this, Europe’s in a drought. So, their own harvest is unpredictable as of now. And so, Europe appears to be heading towards a food shortage within a few months.
Ukraine’s Dilemma with Grain Exports
Meanwhile, the existing routes are also facing logistical nightmares. Traffic jams, longer shipping times, and
higher transport costs have surged across Ukrainian borders.
Olena Vorona from Agrotrade Group writes a horror story. Her company shifted to Danube ports and railways in a bid to reduce the costs of shipments. But costs shot up, and waiting time tripled. The current border crossings have a wait time of around a week.
These statistics show why exactly the EU is working to get Russia back to the negotiation table, ready to offer up concessions like a return to SWIFT. Because if things keep going south, Ukraine’s grain exports might tumble by a whopping 25% in the latter half of the year.
Meanwhile, Russia’s own grain exports are booming. They’re raking in the rewards as their own crop exports boom. The global wheat trade might as well have Putin’s face on it, considering it’s expected to make up a quarter of the market in the 2023-24 season.
So, who’s winning this wild game of hunger games? Russia, without a doubt. Western powers had their eyes on Ukrainian grains destined for other parts of the world, stockpiling them for their personal interests, but now that plan is crumbling.
Read More: Putin’s “Starve Europe” plan gets real
While the West is choking on its “Graindemic” troubles while Putin is playing his cards right. Food is power, the ultimate necessity, and Putin’s having his cake and eating it too. Who knew food could be such a stealthy weapon in the Ukraine war?