Putin’s World Food Crisis by Ruby Osman & Jacob Delorme

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The militarization of food security by the Russian president is not solely responsible for a crisis that was already serious before the start of the war in Ukraine. The international community must address not only the Russian blockade of the Black Sea, but also the structural problems that have left the world vulnerable to food supply shocks.

LONDON — In the wake of the worsening climate crisis, the COVID-19 pandemic and soaring energy prices, war in Europe was the last thing a fragile global food system needed. With nearly 50 million people around the world currently on the brink of starvation, Ukrainians are not the only ones paying the price for Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of their country.

The Russian blockade of the Black Sea has trapped about 20 million tons of grain in Ukrainian ports, equivalent to the annual consumption of all least developed countries. But even if that supply is released, it won’t be enough, as Putin’s invasion is just the latest blow to an already broken global food system. The world must now prepare for a food crisis that will last for years, not months.

Currently, the crisis is one of the pricing, with the index maintained by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations reaching an all-time high. But around this time next year, there just might be a food-availablity crisis. Our new report on the global fallout from the war in Ukraine examines how disrupted planting seasons will undermine Ukraine’s agricultural exports, while a global shortage of fertilizers – exacerbated by the conflict – will undermine the ability of many countries to Eat.

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