Global Review – 7th March

Russian war threatens world food supply

The Russian tanks and missiles besieging Ukraine are also threatening the food supply and livelihoods of people in Europe, Africa and Asia who rely on the vast, fertile farmlands of the Black Sea region, known as the “breadbasket of the world”. Ukrainian farmers have been forced to neglect their fields as millions flee, fight or try to stay alive. Ports that send wheat and other food staples worldwide to be made into bread, noodles and animal feed are shut down. And there are worries Russia, another agricultural powerhouse, could have its grain exports upended by Western sanctions. While there have not yet been global disruptions to wheat supplies, prices have surged 55% since a week before the invasion amid concerns about what could happen next. Russia and Ukraine combine for nearly a third of the world’s wheat and barley exports. Ukraine also is a major supplier of corn and the global leader in sunflower oil, used in food processing. The war could reduce food supplies just when prices are at their highest levels since 2011. If the war is prolonged, countries that rely on affordable wheat exports from Ukraine could face shortages starting in July, International Grains Council director Arnaud Petit told The Associated Press.

Oil hits 13-year high

Oil prices have surged to a 13-year high as US officials signaled an openness to a ban on Russian oil imports amid Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. Fox News reports West Texas Intermediate Crude, the US benchmark, rose 9.5% to $126.64 a barrel as of 7:00 pm on Sunday evening. Brent Crude, the international benchmark, shot up 12% to $130.98 a barrel. WTI hit an all-time high of $147.27 and Brent hit $147.50 in July 2008. The national average for gas prices crossed $4 a gallon for the first time since 2008, currently sitting at $4.009, according to the American Automobile Association (AAA). The all-time high was $4.114 a gallon in July 2008. The Biden administration has issued a rash of sanctions against Russia following its invasion of Ukraine, but has left the country’s oil industry largely unscathed so far. That could change this week as Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Sunday that the administration is coordinating with key allies to potentially ban imports of Russian oil.

UK dock workers refuse to unload Russian oil

British dock workers have refused to unload Russian oil and gas. While Russian ships are prohibited from docking at British ports under the country’s sanctions, Russian goods can still be imported to the country using foreign ships. The workers staged their protest after German-registered vessel was able to dock at Tranmere Oil Terminal on the River Mersey, according to CNBC.

Restart nuclear power stations, Elon Musk urges Europe

Tesla co-founder and CEO Elon Musk has said Europe must re-boot its nuclear power stations for the sake of national and international security. “Hopefully, it is now extremely obvious that Europe should restart dormant nuclear power stations and increase power output of existing ones,” Musk tweeted. “This is critical to national and international security.”

Russians seize control of Europe’s largest nuclear plant in Ukraine

Russian forces have now put staff at Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant, Europe’s largest nuclear plant, under their command and cut off their ability to communicate with Ukraine’s nuclear regulator, the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency said Sunday. In a second serious development, Ukraine has reported that the Russian forces at the site have switched off some mobile networks and the internet so that reliable information from the site cannot be obtained through the normal channels of communication. IAEA has accused Russia of violating key safety guidelines governing nuclear plants.

NATO ‘green light’ to send fighter jets to Ukraine

NATO members have the “green light” to send fighter jets as part of their military aid to support Ukraine, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Sunday. In an interview with CBS News’ Face the Nation, Blinken said the US was talking with “our Polish friends about what we might be able to do to backfill their needs if in fact they choose to provide these fighter jets to the Ukrainians”. Earlier, the Russian Defence Ministry had warned any country hosting Ukrainian military aircraft “will be involved in the conflict”.

Zelensky says Russians preparing to bomb Odessa port

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has said the Russians are preparing to bomb the Ukrainian port of Odessa. According to a tweet, Zelensky was able to base this assumption from maps and other documents obtained from captured Russian soldiers. He has again appealed to Western leaders for a no fly zone, adding, “If you don’t give it to us, at least provide us with airplanes to protect us.”

Vatican ready to do everything to stop the war

“The Holy See is willing to do everything to put itself in service for this peace”, the Pope said at the Angelus on Sunday. “In these days two cardinals went to Ukraine, to serve the people, to help,” he announced, “Cardinal Krajewski, almsgiver, to bring aid to the most needy, and Cardinal Czerny, ‘ad interim’ prefect of the Dicastery for the Service of integral human development”. The Pope said the presence of two cardinals there wass the presence not only of the Pope, but of all the Christian people who want to come closer and say: ‘war is madness, please stop, look at this cruelty’. More than 280 Russian Orthodox clergy signed an open letter urging for an end to the “fratricidal war” in Ukraine.

Lviv Cathedral’s Cruxified Christ moved to a bunker

The statue of Christ the Saviour from the Armenian cathedral in Lviv has been moved to a bunker. The news was given on Twitter by Tim Le Berre, a specialist in the protection of cultural heritage in war zones. It was only during the Second World War that there was such an operation. The crucifix dates back to the Middle Ages. Lilia Onyschenko, head of Lviv’s historical heritage protection department, told Ukrainian Radio that the statue was wrapped in layers of different fabrics, such as fireproof cloth and glass wool, to ensure its protection. Other artifacts were also brought to safety. The statues of the market square, in the heart of the city, have been “wrapped” to save them from possible shock waves.

Bennett: ‘Little chance for peace’

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett told his Cabinet in Jerusalem that he sees very ‘little chance of peace’ between Russia and Ukraine. However, he said, “even if the odds are not great, if there is only a small opening, our moral obligation is to make every attempt” for “dialogue between the parties”. Bennett had flown to Moscow to speak with President Putin, then to Berlin to meet Chancellor Olaf Scholz. Bennett also had a telephone conversation with Volodymyr Zelensky to seek mediation.

Thousands arrested in anti-war demonstrations in Russia

Reports say that between 2,500 and 4,500 people demonstrating against Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine were arrested on Sunday in about 50 cities in Russia. According to the the NGO Ovd-Info, which specialises in monitoring events, almost 11,000 demonstrators have been arrested in the country since February 24.

Putin’s lover and their kids ‘hiding in Switzerland

Vladimir Putin’s mistress Alina Kabaeva is allegedly hiding in Switzerland with their four young children, sources tell The New York Post. Kabaeva, an Olympic gold-winning gymnast, reportedly has four children with the Russian leader, 69, but the two have never officially confirmed it. Sources say they share seven-year-old twin daughters, who were born near Lugano, Switzerland, in February 2015. It is believed they also have two other sons. “Alina has two young boys and twin girls with Putin who were born in Switzerland,” a source told the Post about Putin’s alleged children with Kabaeva, 38. “The kids all have Swiss passports, and I imagine she does also.”

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