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Ukraine: Major Food Crisis Looms, 20 Nations Sending Weapons to Kyiv

Ukraine: Major Food Crisis Looms, 20 Nations Sending Weapons to Kyiv

Sec. Austin on new weapons: “Everyone here understands the stakes of this war, and they stretch far beyond Europe. Russia’s aggression is an affront to the rules-based international order and a challenge to free people everywhere.”

Day 89 of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

The food crisis is almost upon us as Russia denies the passage of grains through Odesa’s port.

The UN’s World Food Programme blasted Russian President Vladimir Putin for putting the world on the brink of a food catastrophe.

Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis explained why the only way to access the grain is through the port.

More Weapons for Ukraine

Defense Secretary Llyod Austin confirmed that 20 nations are sending new weapons to Ukraine:

At a news conference with Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Mr. Austin said that the new munitions would include U.S.-made Harpoon anti-ship cruise missiles and a launcher, which will be provided by Denmark for coastal defense.

The Czech Republic will send attack helicopters, tanks and “rocket systems,” and additional howitzers and artillery ammunition will come from Italy, Greece, Norway and Poland, he added.

Mr. Austin made the announcement after a virtual meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group, a group of dozens of countries formed last month to support Ukraine with military aid.

“Everyone here understands the stakes of this war, and they stretch far beyond Europe,” Mr. Austin said. “Russia’s aggression is an affront to the rules-based international order and a challenge to free people everywhere.”

General Milley said that 47 nations had participated in the virtual meeting of the group on Monday morning, however a list of participants provided to reporters before the news conference listed only 40 nations, along with the European Union and NATO.

UN: People “Marching to Starvation”

David Beasley, the head of the UN’s World Food Program, warned the world that millions are “marching to starvation“:

David Beasley condemned Russia for “a declaration of war on global food security” after it blocked Ukrainian grain exports, and said that 325m people are at risk of going hungry as a result. Around 43m most in danger are already “knocking on starvation’s door”, he said.

Ukraine is the world’s fifth-largest exporter of wheat, fourth-largest exporter of corn and top exporter of sunflower oil, with most of its crop going to poor countries in the developing world.

Mr Putin has prevented shipments from leaving Ukrainian ports, while Western officials say his army has deliberately destroyed agricultural equipment and harvest stores.

Speaking to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Mr Beasley described the impending disaster as “the worst humanitarian crisis since World War Two”, with a massive wave of migration into Europe likely to follow as hunger rises.

He said: “What do you think is going to happen when you take a nation that normally grows enough food to feed 400m people and you sideline that?

“You add fuel costs, food costs, shipping costs – it is devastating.”

Grain and Odesa

Landsbergis argued in The Hill the world should help Ukraine avoid a food crisis because the country is a major world provider of wheat, corn, sunflower and rapeseed oil, and other fats.

“From last year’s harvest, Ukraine still has in its silos close to 30 million tons of grain,” Landsbergis wrote. “Despite the war, bombing, and labor shortages — and many fields inaccessible or contaminated with unexploded ordinance and the debris of battle — this year’s harvest could bring in millions more.”

The West might not feel the pain except at the grocery store. The lack of grain means it will not reach places in Africa, the Middle East, and southeast Asia. Those countries depend on food imports.

Plus, the UN World Food Program received half of its grain from Ukraine.

Ukraine needs its ports to transport goods. Landsbergis explains why:

Rail traffic to Poland looks like a viable option, but, due to technical decisions from czarist times, the railway gauge in Ukraine differs from that in neighboring Poland and Romania and much of the European Union. That means that in order to export anything by rail, each carriage needs to change its gauge or be unloaded/reloaded. That is costly and takes a lot of time. This also means only a very limited amount of grain could reach a Lithuanian port by rail, for example, because the gauge change would need to happen twice, once on the Ukrainian-Polish border and again at the Polish-Lithuanian border.

No gauge change is needed to transit through Belarus to Baltic ports, but to get less than a third of Ukraine’s grain to market, it’s hard to know if the concessions demanded by President Alexander Lukashenko — who has made his country a participant to the war by allowing Russian troops to stage and attack Ukraine partly from Belarus — would be worth the risk of giving him leverage over the world’s food supply.

Transit by truck cannot begin to match the need, even with special transit permissions that are being considered. It is costly, and there are already diesel shortages in Ukraine.

Russia took Crimea in 2014. The country captured Mariupol.

That leaves Ukraine with Odesa but Russia has started to encroach on the port city:

The only way to get Ukrainian food fully back into the global food supply is to allow Ukraine to use the port of Odesa for agricultural exports. Odesa’s port is made to handle the volume, and get it out to the world. Now, it remains under threat of Russian attack, it is cut off by Russian blockade, and it is rendered unusable. This situation has to shift. There is no other way to feed the world.

The countries who consider the looming global food crisis a serious challenge — and who neither believe that Russia should have the right to cut off Ukraine nor that Russia should profit from increased prices on its own grain exports to fund the slaughter of Ukrainians — should guarantee a safe passage of ships from Odesa across the Black Sea to the Bosphorus.

Yes, this might require a naval presence to guarantee that civilian ships carrying grain are not attacked by Russia’s Black Sea fleet and that Russian ships do not run the corridor to take Odesa. And yes, we should also ensure that Ukraine has midrange missiles that can continue to defend Odesa from a Russian assault.

But it is a non-military endeavor, and it is not escalation to guarantee food supplies. If we are serious about averting a crisis, this is what needs to be done. Odesa must be opened. Ukrainian grain must flow. Russia must not be allowed to starve the world to choke Ukraine.

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Comments

The USA has now sent 25% of it’s entire stock of Javelin missiles and one third of all it’s Stinger Missiles.

The Javelin assembly line will need to expand by an order of magnitude to keep up. And, no one has made a Stinger missile in over a decade. So, they will not be replaced. Many of the parts are no longer available.

    n.n in reply to MattMusson. | May 24, 2022 at 7:22 am

    A fire sale. All the old inventory must be cleared.

    taurus the judge in reply to MattMusson. | May 24, 2022 at 8:09 am

    That’s a little misleading. (Regarding MANPADS 92 series which replaced that old useless “redeye”)
    The Stinger is still being manufactured both here and under license overseas.

    The 92 is now obsolete and bids are out for replacement devices with a whole new list of requirements and several companies have submitted prototypes)

    So as usual (you don’t DRMO weapons), they are clearing inventories even though still in active service.

    AnAdultInDiapers in reply to MattMusson. | May 24, 2022 at 11:39 am

    You can buy our Starstreak if you like. Please? We need the export sales 🙁

    Free State Paul in reply to MattMusson. | May 24, 2022 at 2:29 pm

    Many former Warsaw Pact states are dumping their worn-out Soviet weapons in The Ukraine, with the expectation that Uncle Sugar will replace them with new stuff. In every war, it’s the Merchants of Death who win in the end.

Arab, Libyan, Syrian, Afghan, Biden/Maidan/Slavic Spring with “benefits”. Eight years, two years under the current regime, without a Summer. An American Spring in progress.

Btw, while the war is aggravating the Food Crisis, it turns out that Fertilizer is the real 5th horseman of the Apocalypse.

In 2014 the Obama Administration met with well meaning bankers and persuaded them to shift Oil and Gas investment into Green Energy and save the planet. In 7 years, O&G investment has fallen over 50% across the Globe. And, now the lack of investment is translating into the lack of production.

6 months ago, we saw country after country mothball their fertilizer plants because Natural Gas was too expensive. At that point a Famine was inevitable. With fossil fuel fertilizer, the 3rd world can mostly feed itself. Without fertilizer, yields quickly drop by 1/2.

Then, weather gave the US and China their worst wheat harvests in decades. Then, Swine Virus devastated the Asia pork herds and Avian flu hit American chickens.

So, the Famine, the largest starvation event in human history, was already coming before the largest Grain Exporter on the Planet (Russia) invaded the fourth largest Grain Exporter on the Planet (Ukraine) and sealed the deal.

    Free State Paul in reply to MattMusson. | May 24, 2022 at 11:01 pm

    Yes about fertilizer. Also, don’t forget diesel. Sun + water + fertilizer + diesel = food.

    Strange, it’s kinda like someone wants a bunch of us to starve.

livefreeorpie1791 | May 24, 2022 at 7:37 am

My grandfathers, Edward and Alan, always kept a large garden at home. It was a lesson they learned from living through the depression, and WWII. Find a way to plant hoards of nutrient rich foods y’all. Beans are easy, grow like crazy even in partially shaded areas, and hare loaded with nutrients. Potatoes likewise. Chickens require very little room, but if left to roam, even a small yard, will find enough food – some breeds will lay up to 5 eggs per day! This is becoming increasingly important due to Brandon’s clear hostility to us, and special treatment to the invasion. See the formula shortage! Get to planting y’all. Live in an apartment? There are options.

livefreeorpie1791 | May 24, 2022 at 7:38 am

My grandfathers, Edward and Alan, always kept a large garden at home. It was a lesson they learned from living through the depression, and WWII. Find a way to plant hoards of nutrient rich foods y’all. Beans are easy, grow like crazy even in partially shaded areas, and hare loaded with nutrients. Potatoes likewise. Chickens require very little room, but if left to roam, even a small yard, will find enough food – some breeds will lay up to 5 eggs per day! This is becoming increasingly important due to The administration’s clear hostility to us, and special treatment to the invasion. See the formula shortage! Get to planting y’all. Live in an apartment? There are options.

Leslie,

It’s not our fight. This is a border dispute between two Nations on the other side of the world. Does it have potential ramifications outside the zone of conflict? Sure. That’s not a reason for the US to risk a confrontation with Russia.

There are many spillover effects grain is only one of them. Here you promote the idea of some sort of neuvo convoy system, presumably enforced by the US Navy, in the Black Sea and of course littoral waters to somehow allow grain shipments from Odessa. That seems a recipe for disaster. Either it provokes a confrontation or the Russians simply level the docks and port infrastructure.

If, as you propose, the potential humanitarian crisis of a food shortage is the highest priority, certainly high enough for you to propose a direct Naval conflict with Russia, perhaps another course might be considered? Would you be willing to use a genuine diplomatic effort? Would you offer the Russians something in exchange for them granting export and passage for grain shipments?

    alaskabob in reply to CommoChief. | May 24, 2022 at 11:38 am

    Russia cannot be allowed to win any concession if globalism is to win. Putin can now be blamed for every miscalculation and blunder.

Apologies. Not enough coffee. Comments for Mary not Leslie.

“But it is a non-military endeavor, and it is not escalation to guarantee food supplies.” That is why wars are call wars. Britain did that to Germany in WWI…. blockaded food shipments to Germany functionally starving the population. It is a world wide catastrophe in the making…. with numerous players contributing to the mess. In a world utterly dependent on oil and gas for survival without dependable replacements for some areas (fertilizer can’t be replaced) … the Neros of the WEF/NMO could care less for people as they worship green globalism. ALL of THIS could have been avoided but with no downside for the puppet masters…. it goes on.

AnAdultInDiapers | May 24, 2022 at 11:43 am

Lots of focus on Ukraine’s position as a food exporter but..
They produce 3.5% of the world’s wheat, less of its corn and even less of everything else except sunflower oil – which is easily replaced with rapeseed or other oils.

So the specific destinations for Ukraine’s exports will feel the hurt, and need to find new suppliers, but the overall global impact just isn’t at the level being fearmongered.

    CommoChief in reply to AnAdultInDiapers. | May 24, 2022 at 12:32 pm

    It appears we can add grain markets to list of things you are not quite as knowledgeable about as you believe. Lets look at wheat. Ukraine exported 19 million metric tons of wheat in 2021. For comparison Canada exported 21.7 million metric tons.

    How about corn? Ukraine exported 23 million metric tons last year. Canada imported 3.8 million metric tons of corn. Canada imports corn, it does produce for export.

    Which markets import Ukrainian grain? How about Russian or Belarusian grain? What about fertilizer; there’s a global shortage due to the international response to the invasion. That means lower crop yields worldwide. Don’t forget the impact of bad weather on crop yields. If there’s already a bad harvest from winter wheat, an existing shortage in grain shortage levels, reduced access to fertilizer, poor spring planting conditions due to rain, a current drought across the grain producing regions of the US and Canada; all that equals far more disruption than you seem to acknowledge.

    Hungry people are desperate people. Sometimes desperate enough to topple govts. Especially when conditions weren’t great to begin with in those particular Nations. This has the potential to be very bad with many cascading effects. Maybe it won’t, but we should at least acknowledge the potential for very bad secondary and tertiary effects.

      AnAdultInDiapers in reply to CommoChief. | May 24, 2022 at 2:16 pm

      Why are you quoting exports to me? I pointed out that Ukraine’s exports just aren’t relevant on a global scale, and you immediately cite them at me.

      Ok, let’s play. 19 million tons is less than 2.5% of the wheat grown in 2021. From 2019 to 2021 global wheat production grew by more than 19m tons (and isn’t expected to fall in 2022), so the absolute worse case is that global wheat supply will be better than in 2019.

      Except.. Ukraine is still growing wheat. A lot of it. Vast tracts of the country have had no fighting at all, grain is still being produced in areas that have seen fighting.

      It’s ok, you don’t have to believe me. We can go to a well funded global organisation that does in-depth research, get multinational inputs and employs experts.

      “global wheat stocks are forecast to rise by 4.2 percent above opening levels”
      https://www.fao.org/worldfoodsituation/csdb/en/

      How about I let you do your own research in response to “How about corn?” It’ll be useful experience for you.

        alaskabob in reply to AnAdultInDiapers. | May 24, 2022 at 2:21 pm

        Overall percentage doesn’t count…. several countries relied on Ukraine wheat .. so on a country by country basis it matters. Add Indian closing exports… so the global market tightens particularly for North Africa.

          AnAdultInDiapers in reply to alaskabob. | May 24, 2022 at 5:41 pm

          Yeah, I acknowledged that the immediate buyers of Ukraine’s agricultural products will feel the pain.

          I just don’t think it’s beyond the wit of man or global trade mechanisms to meet their needs.

        CommoChief in reply to AnAdultInDiapers. | May 24, 2022 at 6:12 pm

        I already provided the Ukraine v Canada comparison data so no need to research but thanks. You believe that food exports don’t matter, we got it.

        Should be interesting to see how that assessment holds up over the next year. Well, interesting for those in wealthy Nations with adequate domestic food crops. For the poorer nations or nations already suffering food insecurity it’s a bit less theoretical of an exercise.

          alaskabob in reply to CommoChief. | May 24, 2022 at 10:33 pm

          The USA is in a better position as is Canada…. but vulnerable to the whim and desires of the Biden Admin. Protecting the US isn’t their desire. You will own nothing and like it….

chrisboltssr | May 24, 2022 at 12:34 pm

The world is sending weapons to Ukraine because they rather Ukrainians die instead of sending their own citizens to fight. And some people like this arrangement and if you disagree with you’re accused of being a Russian stooge.

Free State Paul | May 24, 2022 at 2:22 pm

Russia is not “blockading” Black Sea ports. The Ukrainians mined the ports at the start of the hostilities to prevent invasion. Some of these mines have broken loose. Therefore, insurance rates have skyrocketed and many seamen aren’t willing to risk their lives.

It is my understanding Russia has offered to clear a humanitarian corridor through the minefields, but the West would rather see brown people starve than let Putin look like a reasonable statesman.

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