On 24 February 2022, Russian President, Vladimir Putin launched a high risk and unprovoked invasion into Ukraine with missile strikes across the entire country, land incursions towards Kyiv and Kherson, and a amphibious landing to take the port city of Mariupol. Since then, over 100 days have passed while the international community continues bearing witness to the realised risks, devastation and atrocities occurring in the contested battlefields of Ukraine. As it stands, President Zelensky reported that Russia has gained control over 20 percent of the Ukraine’s entire territory, even controlling 90 percent of the Ukraine’s eastern separatist regions, Donbas and Luhansk. In line with these Russian advances, Ukrainian casualties now amount to 100 per day with an additional 450-500 people being wounded. The United Nation’s latest numbers estimate that a staggering 6.8 million people have fled the Ukraine while a similar number has been internally displaced. Ukraine’s defence minister, Oleksiy Reznikov speculated that Russian efforts to fortify and build layered defences around occupied areas of Ukraine are part of Russia’s efforts to move the war into a phase of protracted warfare.
While the West continues demonstrating solidarity with the Ukraine, Europe’s notorious energy dependence on the eastern giant remains a strategic and international risk. While the United States and United Kingdom quickly banned oil exports from Russia, the EU imports around 40 percent of its natural gas, over 25 percent of its oil and about 50 percent of its coal from Russia, making the divorce much harder. Germany, which already announced the end of the highly controversial Nord Stream 2 project, finds itself in a particular tough spot because it imports around half of its natural gas and coal, and over one third of its oil from Russia, all while managing a simultaneous exit from nuclear energy. In an attempt to wean itself off of Russian energy supplies, the EU has turned to other partners like the United States, Qatar, Japan and South Korea to make up for energy gaps. Despite these efforts, global crude oil prices have been rising, with European gas prices expected to soar to double their price of 2021.
Apart from Russian oil and gas, the Russian invasion of Ukraine also threatens global supplies of wheat and grain as the Ukraine is one of the world’s largest exporters of wheat and corn. While it managed to export as much as 5 million tons of grains a month before the war, exports are down to 500.000 tons a month, costing the Ukrainian economy a loss of $1.5 billion. While other grain exporter countries like India and Brazil have taken to the global market to fill this vacuum, experts like Dan Basse, president of AgResource, fear that global implications of this supply shortage will continue worsening as the war continues, with the international risk of food insecurity increasing. Additionally, such reconfigurations of the global grain market come with altered transit routes, differing qualities in product and overall higher costs. While food prices are already at an all-time high, the UN warns that they could rise another 22 percent in the course of the war. Devastatingly, its impacts will be felt most acutely in poor countries still recovering from the pandemic as it could leave an additional 13.1 million people deprived of basic nourishment, increasing food poverty and deepening food inequality globally.
Over 100 days on, Ukrainians continue carrying the burden of defending their home country against Russian invaders. Over 100 days on, the Russian invasion continues contributing to rising poverty and food shortages globally. And yet, over 100 days on, we still do not know the full extent of the devastating consequences of the Russian invasion as it drags on and on.
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