Putin’s senseless war is hurting the poor in Asia and Africa – OpEd – Eurasia Review
By Father Shay Cullen*
(UCA News) – Russian invasion causes inflation and threatens millions who depend on Ukrainian goods
Vladimir Putin’s savage war against the peaceful people of Ukraine is the work of a man of determined ambitions trying to secure his place in Russian history as a leader who restored the false “glory” of the Russian Soviet Union which disintegrated in 1989. There was no glory there but oppression, the occupation of half of Europe and a cold war which threatened the nuclear annihilation of the world.
Putin’s massively destructive war, with continued atrocities and war crimes, now threatens another form of annihilation – that of millions of people in Asia and Africa who depend on wheat, corn and cooking oil. Ukrainians like other poor nations of the world.
The Russian President has blocked the export of millions of tons of Ukrainian grain and cooking oil from Odessa to the Black Sea. He wants the sanctions lifted before lifting the blockade. Meanwhile, evidence has emerged that Russia is stealing Ukrainian grain and shipping it to Crimea and then to Syria. It is a tactic of war to starve the world and force western nations to lift sanctions while millions go hungry and many die.
Ukraine exported 4.5 million tonnes of agricultural products per month through its Black Sea ports. There are around 20 million tonnes of grain stored in silos and there will be no storage facilities available for this year’s wheat, barley and grapeseed harvest. Despite the war and the departure of up to 5 million Ukrainians, farmers have continued to plant crops but have nowhere to store them. Sales are necessary for national survival.
Ukraine’s rail system is still operating and carrying grain non-stop to the border with Europe, hoping to reach the embarkation ports of Hamburg and Rotterdam. They cannot transport the huge quantities needed by the starving world quickly enough.
In addition, the gauge of the Ukrainian railways is greater than that of Europe and the transfer of grain to European trains leads to huge backlogs at European borders. Huge cranes have to lift the Ukrainian train wagons, the undercarriages are removed and replaced with European size wheels, and the wagon, filled with grain, is then lowered onto the European track for the train to continue to the port .
Some farmers and exporters use river barges to ship grain to Romania. Trucks are also used, but drivers need special permits and travel documents which take a week to process. All this under the threat of Russian airstrikes.
Putin tried to take over the whole of Ukraine, but failed spectacularly due to his incompetence, total disregard for human life and the powerful resistance of the people, the army and the people. Ukrainian Air Force. Despite being outnumbered three to one, the Ukrainians bravely fight back and have recaptured a significant city and territory from the advancing Russian behemoth army that uses brute force and poor tactics.
Brave Ukrainians sacrificed, fought and died bravely in large numbers, fighting for their homeland against the hubris and vicious intentions of Putin’s invasion. Putin will be remembered, brought to justice and condemned for this massacre of Ukrainian soldiers and civilians by the thousands and the wanton destruction of cities.
Pope Francis also had a lot to say about it. Praying and calling for peace, he called on all to remember the suffering of war victims and “soldiers who fell on one side or the other”, the injured, the homeless and refugees. “May the Lord send his spirit to make us understand that war is a defeat for mankind.”
Even the bodies of thousands of young Russian soldiers are left to rot on the battlefield by the indifferent Russian leader. Long-range bombing destroys all civilian buildings. This is their battle strategy and with the forced deportation of Ukrainian civilians to Russia, a war crime in itself, they think they can conquer Ukraine. Meanwhile, Russian propaganda tells the Russian people stories of great successes.
This war of aggression and occupation of a sovereign nation is a flagrant violation of the UN charter and is morally wrong and illegal. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said war, along with the Covid pandemic, drought and floods and higher temperatures from climate change, “threaten to push tens of millions of people into food insecurity followed by malnutrition, mass hunger and starvation”. .”
World food prices have increased by 30% since the start of the invasion of Ukraine. The only immediate response is to get Ukrainian grain, Russian cooking oil and fertilizer to the world market to prevent the onset of famine in the poorest and most drought-ravaged countries of Africa and from the Middle-East. In parts of Africa, the animals and crops of the poor have died. Climate change is destroying once fertile land.
In Asia, the mango harvest in Pakistan and India has fallen by 70% this year. In the Philippines, harvesting of natural organic mango trees (not sprayed with potassium nitrate) has failed for the past three years and this year only a small harvest has been harvested due to climate change and global warming.
The war in Ukraine causes inflation. In the Philippines, the economy is in shock, with the price of food increasing by 2.6%, electricity by 18% and the cost of fuel and transport by 10.3%. It hurts the workers. Diesel alone is up 58%, a sudden and shocking increase due to the war and the EU oil embargo on Russian oil.
The only relief seen for the world so far has been the release of US$15 billion by the World Bank for projects to address food insecurity over the next 15 months. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken blamed Putin’s “war of choice” to invade a sovereign nation and he told the media that the “greatest global food security crisis of our time” was looming.
We are back to massive increases in the cost of survival and living, and we all need to make lifestyle changes and turn to alternative food sources like planting vegetable gardens, harvesting fallen branches as fuel and use powerful solar flashlights or small solar lamps. panels to reduce electricity bills.
The war in Ukraine will not be over for about two years because the democracies of the world cannot abandon Ukraine to Kremlin aggression. If Putin wins in Ukraine, he will surely attack other former Soviet-era countries like Latvia and Estonia and start another European or even global war with NATO.
Pope Francis has called for peace. “Let the guns be silenced so that those who have the power to stop the war will hear the cry of peace coming from all of humanity,” he said during an April 27 mass.
“Spiritually kneeling before Our Lady, I entrust to her the ardent desire for peace of so many people who, in various parts of the world, suffer from the senseless disaster of war,” Pope Francis prayed. “To the Blessed Virgin, I especially present the sufferings and tears of the Ukrainian people.”
The crisis will deepen and we can expect difficulties to come with further belt tightening. Self-sufficiency and a strong global sharing of resources with the poorest nations is what is needed.
*The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official editorial position of UCA News.
Father Shay Cullen is an Irish Colombian missionary who has worked in the Philippines since 1969. In 1974 he founded the Preda Foundation, a charity dedicated to protecting the rights of women and children and combating sexual slavery and human trafficking.