If you have been following my writing since July, you may remember me writing about the Russians targeting power grids and other energy sources during the winter of 2022 and 2023; the Russian Federation did this during the initial Ukraine war launched in February 2022.
The Russians targeted Ukrainian energy due to the complete logistical disaster because Russian mechanised units ran out of fuel for their vehicles and had to withdraw from northern Ukraine back into Belarus.
Due to the Russian military’s failures and corruption, they had to start using siege tactics because if the Russians did not defeat the Ukrainians on the battlefield, they would try to freeze them to death.
Furthermore, the Russians are deliberately targeting the Ukrainian ability to feed themselves and export agricultural products around the world, which could lead to a mass famine of at least 400 million people, primarily affecting China and the nations like Niger and Nigeria.
As of September, Putin has sufficiently disrupted Ukraine’s grain exports and agricultural sector. Meanwhile, the Russians were bolstering their wheat exports, so global supply has held steady, and prices are still down.
However, relying on Russian grain is unreliable due to the high potential of sea conflicts, privateering, or other factors that could disrupt Russian grain from the Black Sea to the rest of the world.
Eduard Zernin, head of Russia’s Union of Grain Exporters, cited a potential aggravation of what he called ‘hidden sanctions’ that ‘may lead to an increase in freight and insurance costs’ for Russia.
This ‘will be reflected in the price level of wheat and other grains on the world market’, Zernin told Reuters.
Give some perspective on the importance of Russian grain. Russia is the largest wheat exporter in the world, followed by Canada and the United States. Three countries export more than 20 million tons of wheat: Russia, Canada and the United States.
To secure the screen supply, the best option, though it may be unrealistic due to a lack of political will in the West and both American political parties, Democrat and Republican, being hotly divided on the issue of Ukraine due to some Americans viewing the conflict as a foreign war.
The infrastructure development option is building railway networks connecting Europe and the grain from Ukraine to transport agricultural materials.
As the temperatures shift, we will see the Russians change their strategy again. They will transition from attacking Ukrainian agricultural infrastructure to targeting the power grid, but just because the Russian focus has shifted doesn’t mean grain markets will be stable.
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