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Is Russia using wheat as leverage?

November 28, 2022

Ukraine's crucial wheat exports have fallen dramatically since the beginning of the war, leading to worldwide shortages. Food security is at stake, especially in Africa.


"The missiles scream overhead every day; the alarms never stop. But it worries us more when it goes quiet, that could mean a missile has hit us." Nadja manages a 4,000-hectare farming business near Mykolaiv. She now has to navigate her tractor through the shell casings strewn across her field. For her and many other farmers in Ukraine, the war is not only a daily danger to their life as they work their fields. They also have to suffer the thought of their grain rotting in silos while people go hungry in other parts of the world. The Russian invasion of Ukraine is threatening food supplies all over the world. African states in particular are at risk; their very existence depends on wheat imports. Closed or bombed ports in Ukraine, destroyed bridges and mined fields are causing the fragile global supply chain to break down. As a result, more and more people in the Global South have no access to food. "We are hungry," say young men in the Nouakchott market in Mauritania. "If the situation does not change in the next few years, we will all become Salafists." Putin is deliberately exploiting the tense situation for his own narrative. He blames Western sanctions for the impending famine. Is he aiming to win new allies against the West with this narrative?

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