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  • Brent Hennrich

The Losing End of the War on Ukraine

Where golden sun kisses growing wheat

Now combatants come to meet

Fields of food that once meant life

Now are subject to pain and strife

Let's begin with this. The greatest loss of Ukraine being conquered by Russian forces at the behest of Vladimir Putin, is of course Ukrainian lives and the comfort of their safety before the war.

The home of 44+ million people being invaded without cause is reason enough to want to see this war end.

War crimes involving attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure, is reason enough.

Innocent civilians forced to flee from the terror imposed on them by an authoritarian's dream of rebuilding a defunct empire, is reason enough.

Destruction of the democratic republic Ukrainians, fought so hard for in Revolution of Dignity of 2014 where they said no more to closer ties to Russia, is reason enough.

Even with all of the obvious and warranted justifications for caring about ending this war as soon as possible.

Along with the humanitarian crisis it has provoked; many people pose the question;

"Why should I care what happens to Ukraine?"

Aside from the obvious reasons, here are some potential world impacts the war and very potential demise of a free Ukraine could impose on the global economy:

The United States and its NATO allies have stated unequivocally that troops will not be sent into Ukraine. We will continue providing arms and ammunition. We will continue to provide negative incentives in the form of crushing economic and personal sanctions on President Putin, Russian government leadership and the supportive oligarchs. We will continue to explore diplomatic routes to a cease fire and encourage the withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukraine. We will continue with humanitarian assistance to the refugees, fleeing the battlefield that once was homes and neighborhoods.

As of March 17, 2022, these nations have accepted the millions of refugees from war, in the following amounts.

  • Poland had taken in 1,916,445 refugees

  • Romania 491,409.

  • Moldova 350,886.

  • Hungary 282,611.

  • Slovakia 228,844.

  • Russia 168,858.

  • Belarus 2,127. (Source)

Those numbers will likely continue to grow.

Sadly, any examination of this issue for reasons to get more involved or caring more must include economics as well. It's a cold source of enumerating the costs of war but it is a reality as well; especially when trying to express a need to "care".

Most probably didn't know exactly where Ukraine was located but they certainly should now. Most didn't know the history of Russia, Ukraine and the former Soviet Union and how it's context affects today but I hope they do now. Finally, most know nothing of Ukraine's industries and production nor where those goods end up in the world.

Ukraine may not play the largest role in the world of global economics but it is important for the manufacture and export of many commodities or raw products; especially agricultural products. It is classified as a significant producer and exporter of these primary products, each worth over a billion dollars in export sales.

  • corn - 13% of total world trade

  • sunflower and safflower oils - as much as 46% of total world production

  • wheat - 8% of world trade

  • barley - 12 % of world trade

Combined, these with two more agricultural products accounted for more than 77% of Ukraine’s agricultural exports. (source)

While Ukraine only grows about 3% of worldwide wheat production, they account for 9% of global wheat exports. Since they are both impacted by this war, let's look at Russia as well. Russia grows 11% of worldwide wheat production but their exports make up 19% of the world's trade in wheat.

While this war won't impact available wheat on a world scale so as to cause a famine or severe scarcity: it already has effected wheat futures as well as the cost to food manufacturers and consumers alike. These price hikes began the day before Russia's invasion began. Much like global oil prices provide either reason or excuse to gas producers for an increase in prices to consumers, food manufactures will do the same.

With this map, you can see that wheat is grown in almost the entirety of Ukraine, hence the reason it's often referred to as the "Bread Basket of Europe".

With Russia being Ukraine's top consumer of its exports, you have little to imagine as to why Russia would invade at all. "Why buy the cow...something...something" Russia and Ukraine are so inextricably tied in the trade of commodities between each other and the greater world that it challenges all sense to start a war that will affect your own production and exports.

As I said, there is no immediate threat to the world of famine caused by a severe cut in the available wheat to the world market but what about next year? That's exactly why prices began to rise on grain futures before the invasion rolled into Ukraine. Next year and the year after and possibly beyond will remain in question until this war ends. Ukraine and possibly Russia will remain unable to plant for spring crops so that affects the supply and price potentials 8 months to a year from now. What if the war doesn't end in this calendar year? No one knows how long this will continue.

I've given you just one more good reason a person should be concerned about Ukraine, as if the lives lost and displaced simply wasn't enough reason to do so.

There's more I could tell you about Ukraine's other contributions and potential contributions to the world.

  • Ukraine could provide electricity to much of western Europe if they join or reach a trade agreement with the European Union. Moves to link the power grids have already occurred to free Ukraine power from Russia's control as the war progresses.

  • They export a large amount of both iron ore and raw steel, ready to be forged into construction products, mainly to Russia but others in this world would be hurt by market prices climbing over a reduction in exports.

But in the end, for those who can't see reason enough to care already, I guess the cost of a box of cereal or a loaf of bread for them in the future is the easiest way to make caring about a war, thousands of miles away, is the simplest argument to make.

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