A World War of Economic Attrition

[NB: check the byline as usual, thanks. /~Rayne]

We’ve discussed in comments this past week the possibility Russia’s invasion of Ukraine will deeply affect the global wheat market. It’s already affected wheat futures pricing dramatically.

Graph: Wheat futures, 2005-current via Macrotrends

But wheat futures are only the tip of the iceberg. We are looking at the unfolding of a world war aimed at economic attrition; its effects need to be gamed out.

An important if informal assessment by Maxim Mironov, professor at IE Business School—Madrid (Instituto de Empresa, S.L.), was shared in a Twitter thread (translated here from original Russian into English):

Many people ask me to comment on the sanctions.
In short, my scientific conclusion as a professor of finance, doctor of the University of Chicago is FUCKED.

And double fucked up that the inhabitants of Russia, even the educated, for the most part do not understand what awaits them.
I explain on…

.. fingers.

Very soon, the Russians will face a shortage of basic products. I’m not talking about all kinds of iPhones, the import of which has already been banned, but about food, clothes, cars, household appliances, etc.

Russia is very strongly integrated into world trade. And already the largest operators refuse …

…send containers to Russia. But even if a miracle happens and Russia finds someone who is ready to send containers to Russia for three meters, the question is how to pay for it? Export earnings will decrease significantly, as all buyers will try to abandon Russian …

..goods. We see that even non-sanctioned oil companies cannot find buyers for their oil. Gazprom, the main exporter of gas, is already under sanctions, that is, it is generally unclear how it will receive foreign exchange earnings.
The Russian Central Bank has accumulated a huge money-box, 650 billion …

.. dollars. Only more than half of these reserves have already been arrested, and what to do with gold is also not very clear. Few banks in the world will want to buy it from the Russian Central Bank, so as not to fall under sanctions or huge fines themselves.
Many people think that Russia over the past years …

.. built a bunch of factories, only all these factories – automobile, aviation, household appliances, etc. actively use imported components. That is, in the coming months, we will face the shutdown of entire industries with all the ensuing consequences – a shortage of goods, mass…

… unemployment, respectively, a fall in tax collection and, as a result, problems with the payment of salaries to state employees.

Planes even within Russia will also soon stop flying. After all, almost all of them are imported, and the West has already been banned from supplying spare parts. Therefore, we will soon see a massive…

.. decommissioning of aircraft.
The Internet as we knew it will also be shut down. They have already blocked a bunch of information sites, one of these days they are going to block Wikipedia. Twitter and Facebook are already slowing down. Going to shut down YouTube.
About agriculture. Are you aware that..

..in Russia, the share of imported seeds is almost 40%? And for potatoes, the share of imported seeds is 90%? That is, of course, farmers will come up with something over time, but at least in the short term, we should expect a shortage of basic agricultural products and a sharp rise in prices. And that’s not all either..

..Everyone who can leave the country will start to leave. Already actively felled. The government understands this, which is why they introduced a bunch of measures today to keep IT people. Only they won’t work. Therefore, it is very likely that exit visas will soon be introduced for certain categories or completely …

… will close the country.

The only plus from this story is that those who are nostalgic for the USSR will be able to feel all its delights in their own skin. And it will not be a relatively herbivorous USSR like Khrushchev-Brezhnev-Gorbachev, but a USSR headed by a crazy dictator.

Here is today’s news, illustrating the scenario described in the thread. Avtovaz has already stopped. And it seemed that it should not depend on imports at all

Avtovaz will suspend the assembly of cars due to a shortage of electronic components. Work was stopped for four days

(link to news article at https :// tass. ru/ekonomika/13943115 embedded)

Fucked. Double fucked. That’s Russia’s economy.

A wide swath of Russians have no idea how big and bad this fucking will be thanks to Putin’s suffocating grip on media which has only tightened in the last two weeks.

However early assessments tell us failures will begin in another week or two — airlines are a good example:




All this inside a couple of days. Other businesses will similarly experience problems with payments, acquiring other goods and services, disruptions in supply chain far worse than COVID created.

What happens when reality finally catches up with the average Russian who may already have experienced problems with banking and travel? What happens when pay for government employees is disrupted, when unemployment cascades out to successive failing businesses and industries?

~ ~ ~

Let’s go back to wheat futures. What Mironov wrote is challenging enough — from where will Russia buy the wheat seed needed? (Depending on source, there’s a disparity in what percentage of wheat seed Russia imports, but it’s between 18-40% depending on spring, hard wheat, or other type.) Will it buy from China and India, leaving Russia more vulnerable to influence of these two countries? Are these two countries willing to accept rubles? Or will they expect something else in trade, like fossil fuels?

That’s all well and good, but will this happen inside the next several weeks? Because the planting season can begin as early as April in the southernmost areas growing wheat.

With wheat futures rising so rapidly, will the price of wheat seed also reflect this increase? Will Russia be able to keep up with this considering their markets have crashed?

What happens to other crops like potatoes? Russia had already forecast a shortage this year because of drought last year which will now be exacerbated by sanctions.

Expand mental modeling across all of Russia’s crops — time is already eating away at the 2022 growing season even though there’s still snow cover.

(I’m not even going to explore the challenges of tractor and other farm equipment maintenance due to sanctions. The problems will mirror that of the Russian military.)

~ ~ ~

I wrote “world war of economic attrition” because the impending challenge to Russia’s wheat crop and wheat futures doesn’t stop at Russia’s border.

Ukraine, the fifth largest wheat producer, will likely have problems putting in its crop due to military action. If we assume Putin does his worst, we can expect farmers in tractors chased down by aircraft.

The countries which buy wheat from both Ukraine and Russia will suffer for any decrease in availability and increase in price — more so for those which import from Ukraine since it ships as much as 80% of its wheat. Two articles worth reading and in this order:

Reuters: Concerns rise over Black Sea spring crops amid Russia-Ukraine war – March 1, 2022

Al Jazeera: MENA faces a crisis as the world’s key wheat producers are at war – March 1, 2022

Reuters looks at the wheat market, Al Jazeera looks at more closely at the consumption end. Neither paint a pretty picture; the drought in parts of north Africa add substantial risk of increased geopolitical instability which would likely spread through the Middle East.

Nor will the risks stop in the eastern hemisphere. Brazil imports wheat because it can’t grow enough for its own consumption. It dedicated more land to soybean production after Trump’s misbegotten trade war with China cut substantially into US soybean sales to the same. Brazil might try to increase more acreage to wheat but any more new Brazilian acreage comes at the expense of climate which we will all feel. How will the change in wheat futures affect Brazil politically when it’s sure to result in inflation?

~ ~ ~

Game out the simulation even further: how will sanctions affect the rest of Russia, and why should Putin’s leadership of Russia survive even another quarter? We may worry about Ukraine’s ability to bear up under a kinetic war of attrition, but how long will Russians suffer under the corresponding economic war of attrition?

Why should the rest of the world have to suffer the ensuing fallout and forbear Putin’s inability to sell Ukrainians on the idea they are part of Russia without the use of force?

The sanctions imposed on Russia because of his personal beliefs about Ukraine are the equivalent of a economic nuclear weapon, the fallout from which will reach the rest of the world.

It needs to be clear to every global citizen touched this fallout the sole reason any sanctions have been levied is Putin and his screwed-up genocidal beliefs that Ukraine is not a country, that only Ukrainians he accepts as good Russians should survive.

Fucked. Double fucked. This may be Russia’s economy in the very near term and the world’s bread basket over the course of the the next year, but this should be Putin’s epitaph.

Putin the Double Fucked.

114 replies
  1. i0sam0i says:

    Jan Nedvidek @janedvidek Mar 2
    “All these manufactures have cut off access to repair manuals without which the aircraft and engines cannot be serviced. They have also issued a global ban on servicing in other countries, so that Russian aircraft cannot be flown abroad for maintenance.”

    This will be similar to how agricultural and other industrial plant and equipment like John Deere having to be serviced by John Deere reps (ie not be able to repair your own machinery. Easy to sanction amd not allow repairs.
    Continuing that train of thought, how does it hold for medical equipment servicing repairs, another industry that has strong monopoly amd lack of right to repair. This will lead to (I suspect) huge issues for the general russian population

    [FYI, edited to offset tweet from comment text. /~Rayne]

      • madwand says:

        Good post Rayne and Navidek’s thread is illuminating. From my experience they will cannibalize until they can’t any further or try to get parts from unapproved sources, could be problematic. Running out of money reminds me of the end of a helicopter company in NY in the late 80s, incidentally where Trump kept his Super Puma for maintenance, whole nother story, but the company was very short on revenues with no investors on the horizon, the principles had been charged with crimes, one related to drugs, whole nuther story there also. On payday they had enough to pay half their employees, those on the ground would take off from work and most would get their money, the others, those out flying would find no money in the bank. The heliports and FBOs stopped accepting credit for landing and fuel fees and demanded cash up front, there were rumors of the company flying aircraft where scheduled maintenance had been deferred and of course at some point they were cut off from parts. It was only a matter of time and the company folded. A lot of pilots, mechanics, and aviation office workers pushed out and mostly absorbed by other companies working the NY market.

        • Tom R. says:

          That’s not at all how it’s supposed to work. If an airline or air taxi operator is in financial distress, you should report it to the FAA immediately. They will suspend the operator’s certificate, as well they should, in the interest of safety. This is not a game.

          References, inter alia:

          * FAR 119.36(e)8


          • madwand says:

            I agree, but who is going to do that reporting and FAA has two main functions, one to serve as the government regulatory body, and the second is to promote aviation. Sometimes it hard to see which side of the conversation they’re on.

            • Tom R. says:

              1) You saw it, you report it.

              2) Regulation is a burden, but the alternative is worse. Reasonable regulation is a net benefit for the industry. Legitimate operators are glad that regulation keeps scoundrels out of the industry. It’s hard to compete against scoundrels. Scandals and crashes are very bad for the industry as a whole.

              Legitimate operators want to comply. If the FAA inspector calls up and says such-and-such is not good, the usual response is OMG you’re right, let me fix that and get right back to you. Problem solved, no enforcement required.

              Certificate action, such as in the case of an insolvent operator, is very rare. The FAA rightly sees that as simultaneously regulating and protecting the industry. It doesn’t promote that one operator, but it promotes the industry as a whole.

              There are some things the FAA does that are seriously screwed up and conflicted, but this is not one of them.

              • madwand says:

                You mean the owner of the certificate did not report he was in financial trouble, the Director of Operations for the company did not report financial trouble, The Chief pilot did not report financial trouble, the Director of Maintenance did not report financial trouble, the pilots, mechanics, dispatchers, office workers to include accountants did not report financial trouble, the manufactures of aircraft and holders of leases (Lot of bucks) of aircraft did not to my knowledge report financial troubles of the company in question, vendors of parts and other supplies also, the hundreds of pilots working both exclusions who heard the heliports operators on river frequency deny landing to the operator if they could not pay in cash. Most likely the FAA knew about this, in fact the Safety Officer of the company in question certainly knew about all this because he became an inspector for the local FSDO, so he might have provided input. I don’t know.

                The company went out of business and a lot of people 35 years ago were unemployed with their lives disrupted on a more micro scale than the events now playing out in Russia as described by Navidek’s thread, which was what I was trying to relate to. Actually the point of what I was replying to. Some got out of aviation entirely, others had long periods of unemployment, Some were lucky and got jobs immediately like the Safety Officer, pilots and mechanics took awhile to filter into other companies when positions became available in fact like the company I worked for at the time where more than one pilot or mechanic ended up and inevitably told their stories of what happened to them at former employers.

      • Jane says:

        Thank you for this- I am In awe of your ability to put the pieces together and your willingness to share with us

  2. Jimmy Anderson says:

    Excellent points and links – thank you.
    It makes you wonder whether the post-Brexit plans to take a large percentage of UK’s agricultural land out of production – and into “re-wilding” – will be rapidly re-thought .
    I can’t say that I’ve heard this brought up at all in UK politics

    • Rayne says:

      See my recent post about cognitive dissonance and its effect on US response to Russia’s invasion. Britons, particularly the Tories, are still in deep denial about Brexit and what it has and will do to the UK. The pandemic and Johnson’s horrific handling exacerbated the cognitive dissonance, but too much of the country is still not thinking systemically about what it means to be cut off from their food and fuel supplies. And in spite of numerous stories featuring images like this one, with lorries queued up so badly they’re visible in satellite images in Google Maps — I just don’t get it.

      • derphyyiness says:

        Significantly less appreciative of your article after this bad take on the UK tbh mate. Boris’s handling of the pandemic wasn’t horrific, just a bit below average. 41st in world in per capita excess deaths which is about middle of the road for EU countries. The economy has returned to pre-pandemic size while Germany’s still has not. Ruthless acquirement of vaccines before any other country. Boris unironically had one of the best responses to Omicron on the planet and easily the best in the EU coming out of it nearly entirely economically unscathed. And finally the UK’s GDP growth over the next 5 years is projected to be better than France’s which is the UK’s nearest peer economically.

        There’s a real disconnect on the internet between what people think of the UK and how it actually is. Like people cannot seem to get their heads around the idea that boris=/=trump and that brexit=/=economic apocalypse. The number of doomer takes on the UK I’ve seen over the last 5 years from intelligent people that fell flat on their face is actually bonkers insane.

        Relying on pictures of lorries to tell you anything useful is a good way to find yourself amongst that gallery of fallen takes imo.

        You are correct that fuel is probably the greatest threat to that GDP projection right now though. But under significantly less threat from that than Europe as the UK gets some gas from the north sea still, and because it relies less on pipes than the continent it has a number of LNG terminals meaning it can get gas from further afield.

        As for food, it’s complicated, the average age of our farmers is 65 and no one young wants to do it, they’re all leaving farming as a job. I think the UK is on a trajectory to change how we eat by a lot in the coming decades, meat consumption has dropped by nearly 20% in the last ten years which is a huge deal as the large majority of the grain we grow is fed to livestock. Less meat market means more grain available for humans. Also we’re going big on vertical farming. We already have the largest vertical farm in Europe and are currently building the largest in the world. The main issue is that this massive shift in the way food is eaten in the UK is going to take decades so doesnt help right now, a food crisis would be problematic in the short term, although ironically it might accelerate this revolution.

        • Rayne says:

          Oh, I think we’re quite aware of UK’s situation. BoJo isn’t Trump but like Trump he’s a gross failure as a leader. Shall we ask UK fishing industry members what they think of him?

          The UK’s COVID-19 experience is a failure, too, worse than than that of the US and that’s saying a lot.
          – Top five for total documented COVID cases;
          – +287000 deaths per million people compared to US rate of +240000/1M people

          The numbers don’t lie though BoJo and his team do, on the regular. Believe me, we’ve got the cut of his jib.


          Community members: apologia won’t come from eastern Europe alone.

            • Rayne says:

              It’s seriously the best, but Pie’s material was based in no small part on the fact Boris Johnson is a well-documented liar.

              • Rayne says:

                That video was in one of the links I shared – just insane how much he lies. UK needs someone like Daniel Dale to track him in real time.

                And when he isn’t lying he’s skating wide swaths avoiding answering questions.

                • Valley girl says:

                  Yes, I know. But the video wouldn’t open for me, so I searched for it. Thought others might have same problem I did.

          • derphyyiness says:

            “– +287000 deaths per million people compared to US rate of +240000/1M people
            The numbers don’t lie ”

            You are speaking a mistruth whether you realise it or not. You’re looking at documented covid deaths but these are incomparable between countries due to difference in recording. The only comparable statistic is excess deaths. If we were to go by documented deaths only then for example Russia only has 347k covid deaths, do you believe that? Do you believe Putin’s numbers? Russia’s excess death count is one million.
            You can look at the economists tracker on this if you don’t believe me:


            It also shows that America is currently ranked 27th in the world for excess deaths per-capita which is significantly worse than the UK.

            “– Top five for total documented COVID cases;”

            This also is a mistruth. The reason the UK has such a high count of cases is because the UK took part in one of the most aggressive and frequent testing campaigns on the planet, testing literally 6 times more than Germany and more than twice that of america.


            I was hopeful that your article might have been insightful, but that you don’t seem to know about something like excess deaths which is widely recognised by the scientific community as one of the few ways to make accurate comparisons between countries on covid is concerning.

            “Oh, I think we’re quite aware of UK’s situation. ”

            You aren’t, you’re blinded by hatred. Boris is a clown and needs to be replaced by someone more competent, but you can’t make criticisms of him like this when you aren’t factually informed. A criticism based on bad foundations reflects on you and destroys trust in your insight.

            “Boris Johnson slashes spending on govt unit tasked with investigating Russian corruption.”

            A 13% cut is pretty shitty but I cant read the article to see the details, still it says in the first lines that it is because of the international aid budget which sounds strange. For now I’ll accept that the claim is true and is bad and is not a weird side effect of cutting the IA budget.

            If you think that helped Putin much, well:
            It’s just a fact the UK has been at the forefront of helping Ukraine. If we hadn’t sent them those 2,000 NLAWs before anyone else they would be in a significantly more dire position right now, and that’s not even getting into the intel and finance we’ve been supplying. We’ve been training the Ukrainians since 2015 for russian invasion. That Russian money, you have to admit, has done fuck all for Russia in this situation, their efforts to influence the EU with money were infinitely more successful.


            • Rayne says:

              You mean you’re going to compare the excess deaths of a country which doesn’t have single-payer publicly-funded health care with a country the size of an American state which does? We have people dying here because they can’t afford $1000/month for insulin but do go on about the death count being skewed.

              Or call into question the counts of the UK which has 1.75X the population of California but .58X the area of California? LOL I should hope to hell the UK can manage a death count at that scale.

              As for your corrupt hack BoJo, let me point to a UK media article: Viral video of Boris Johnson ‘lying to parliament’ approaches 10 million views. The man is a massive national security risk after this episode in particular: Revealed: ex-KGB agent met Boris Johnson at Italian party

              It’s just a fact the UK has been at the forefront of helping Ukraine.” Do tell me when UK will freeze Russian oligarchs’ assets.

              As for aid to Ukraine, you act as if the US hasn’t been shipping materiel to aid them or providing intelligence, or ordering 8500 troops to standby. From The Hill on January 25, 2022:

              A plane carrying about 80 tons of U.S. military equipment landed in Ukraine’s capital on Tuesday, part of a $200 million lethal aid package from the Biden administration to bolster Kyiv against a potential Russian attack.

              The cargo was the third shipment of the total package and included Javelin anti-tank missiles, “other anti-armor systems, grenade launchers, munitions, and non-lethal equipment essential to Ukraine’s front line defenders,” Pentagon spokesman Marine Corps Lt. Col. Anton Semelroth said in a statement.

              The United States, which has committed more than more than $2.7 billion in security assistance to Ukraine since Russia’s 2014 annexation of the Crimean Peninsula, including $650 million in 2021, has said a Russian invasion of Ukraine is “imminent.”

              ~eye roll~ I’m done with this, I’ve let it too much comment real estate. Mea culpa, community members.

            • Rayne says:

              There’s no bottom. None. The corruption is just so chronic and deep.

              I’m done being lectured by anyone from the UK so long as the majority party is unwilling to recognize and rectify its cancer.

          • KM Williams says:

            “BoJo isn’t Trump but like Trump he’s a gross failure as a leader.”

            To me Johnson and the Tory Party look like Fun House Mirror distortions of Trump & Co. From the bad hair to the chronic lying, to selling knighthoods (instead of pardons).

            • earlofhuntingdon says:

              If I’ve threaded it properly, it was a reply to derphyyiness’s inane Johnsonian propaganda.

              But thanks for the other laugh. Boris Johnson is an effortlessly good liar, one of the world’s best.

              • Valley girl says:

                Yes, it was threaded properly. Alas, I found that comment depressing. That’s what sent me off to Johnathan Pie.

                Do you have any feel for the general mood of the UK populace? I keep reading snippets here and there that they have soured on Johnson. Snippets in the Guardian. If I had read that in the Telegraph, however, that would be altogether different.

                • earlofhuntingdon says:

                  I haven’t. Those in the Tory Belt are still for him, in part, because they are convinced Starmer is vapid and Labour could never do any better than the worst Tory government. As with the American right, that’s a statement of faith not informed by the reality of Johnson’s government. (I mean, Sir Gavin Williamson FFS?)

                  Those up north disagree, but realize that Johnson has used up too few of his nine lives, and that an election keeps receding into the horizon.

                  • Scott Johnson says:

                    It’s a lot harder to have a snap election, or a vote of no confidence, in Britain than it used to be.

      • Leoghann says:

        So far this week, we’ve had propaganda from a Durham PR agent and a BoJo PR agent, all submitted anonymously, and with gratuitous insults intact. At least when Jonathon Moseley dropped in to post some Trump propaganda he was honest about who he was.

        Thank you for being the statistics expert you are. Or maybe it’s Google-fu.

  3. Nord Dakota says:

    In the first days of the invasion, Trump was asked if, were he in a position like that of Zelensky, he would stay and take up arms. He said courage is a funny thing, you don’t know until you’re in the position (some nods to his draft evasion and comments as President that now he wish he had served). Just before the invasion he cheered Putin’s peacemaker role. With most of the world cheering on the brave Zelensky, has Trump remained silent about this leader?

    • Rayne says:

      Trump knows Zelenskyy has already won the moral war and will be popular across the west in a way he could only dream of. Whatever he says will be colored by a desperate need to make it all about himself being a malignant narcissist, and the threats hanging over his head. I doubt he’ll say much and it may explain why he’s not exactly going gangbusters on his own shiny-new social media platform (which coincidentally, in Russian would be called ‘Pravda’.)

      • Peterr says:

        Roll tape, please, from Maria Bartiromo’s Fox show . . . From Rolling Stone on Wednesday:

        Trump Tries to Take Credit for Ukraine’s Resistance Against Russia … Days After Calling Putin a ‘Genius’ for Invading

        The former president boasted that he sent Ukraine weapons, conveniently ignoring that he was impeached for delaying military aid to the country

        By Peter Wade

        Former President Trump anointed himself a savior of the Ukraine resistance, a week after he called President Vladimir Putin a “genius,” “smart,” and a “peacekeeper” as Russian troops invaded separatist-backed regions in Ukraine.

        During an interview with Maria Bartiromo on Fox News on Wednesday, Trump bragged about supplying Ukraine with weapons and military aid when he was president. “[Russia] is in much deeper than they thought, to a certain extent because of the weapons that I gave, and that the Ukrainians used so well … amazing,” he said.


        Trump has flip flopped frequently in recent weeks. In addition to praising Putin before backing Ukraine, he also gave himself credit for NATO’s existence, even though as president he threatened to withdraw the U.S. from the organization. “There would be no NATO if I didn’t act strongly and swiftly,” Trump said in a Monday statement. He also bragged about the weapons he reluctantly provided to Ukraine. “It was me that got Ukraine the very effective anti-tank busters (Javelins) when the previous Administration was sending blankets,” he wrote. “Let History so note!”

        It is always, ever, and only about Trump.

        Zelinskyy already faced him down once when he refused to help Trump’s reelection with a fake investigation, and seeing this comic-turned-president getting all the praise and adulation that Trump craves is like turning the knife in Trump’s belly.

        At this point, Trump can’t help himself. In a twisted way, he has become the comic the masses laugh at — not with, but at — and Zelinskyy has become the leader the masses look at with awe and respect. And Trump knows it.

        • Dsl says:

          “Zelinskyy already faced him down once when he refused to help Trump’s reelection with a fake investigation”

          I keep thinking about this and can’t help but wonder what would have happened had Zelinskyy gone ahead with Trump’s extortion plot. Maybe a coincidence, but it sure would have helped Putin’s case for getting rid of him. I’m not sure how his troll farms would have played the ‘Biden and Zelinskyy are both corrupt’ angle at the same time, but his marks around the world seem willing to believe anything.

          • Marinela says:

            Zielinski was elected on a platform of fighting corruption. They tried to compromise him, by getting him to accept a role in a corrupt investigation. In addition to it’s undamaged character, looks like Zielinski surrounded himself with some good advisors. Trump schemes didn’t work as planned thanks to the whistleblower, Vindman and others.

          • Leoghann says:

            I’ve already seen troll shitposts about all of Zelenskyy’s villas around the world and his hidden accounts in the world’s tax dodger banks.

            • P J Evans says:

              That’s why he’s still in Ukraine, getting three hours sleep and still doing diplomacy.
              I wonder how much of Vlad’s money is stashed overseas in banks and real estate.

            • skua says:

              Someone posted Bannon’s doctrine for dealing with the mainstream media. I think it deserves to be part of the Poisonous Catechisms.
              1. The Big Lie.
              2. Flood the [news] zone with shit. (Bannon)
              3. “You just tell them and they believe. They just do.”

          • Ginevra diBenci says:

            Dsl wrote above: “I keep thinking about this and can’t help but wonder what would have happened had Zelinskyy gone ahead with Trump’s extortion plot.”

            He almost did. Zelenskyy had gotten extorted by Trump and Giuliani into agreeing to an interview with Fareed Zakharia on CNN–I assume for the credibility CNN’s imprimatur would have given it, ironically, as opposed to Fox. It was days away when the whistleblower report about the “perfect call” became public knowledge. The rest is history, but it’s worth remembering that Zelenskyy had been in office only a few months; he and his staff were trying desperately to determine what, if any, role Rudy played in the administration.

        • Rayne says:

          It is always, ever, and only about Trump.” ~nods~

          This factor, his malignant narcissism, is what made him such a perfect tool for Putin’s purposes. Trump is so wholly predictable; alternately threaten his narcissistic supply and stroke his ego, throw cheap credit his way, and he’ll roll completely over.

        • Nord Dakota says:

          I had forgotten about him suddenly taking credit for the alliance he wanted to get rid of!

  4. Dsl says:

    But…what about the economic impacts to GOP campaign financing? The NRA? The Freedumb Honkies up here in Canada and around the world?? The PCs, the prairie & western wingnuts, the PPC assholes?

    Won’t someone think of the people who really matter here? You know, the real patriots! Damn those globalists with their thinking and planning and foresight

  5. Peterr says:

    I was talking with a wheat farmer in my church the other day — a conservative woman, especially with regard to money — and this is planting season. She is always watching the wheat futures, and she and I had a long conversation about Ukraine, Russia, and the global economy. In a lot of situations, she and her neighbors often have an attitude of “over there (wherever “there” is) is not our concern,” but not with this. “I should be happy that I’ll be able to get a great return on our harvest (assuming it comes in!), but our inputs are going up almost as fast (fuel, fertilizer, etc.).” In the next breath, though, she pivoted to the plight of Ukrainian farmers, people doing exactly what she is doing, but under much harsher circumstances. “All I have to worry about is getting enough rain on my fields at the right time of year. Nobody’s going to shoot a rocket at my tractor when I’m in the field, or steal my crops when harvest comes.”

    One aspect of this economic fight that I’d add to everything above is the effect on Russia capital markets. From MarketWatch.com yesterday:

    ‘Rest in peace, dear comrade’ — on Russian TV, analyst toasts to the end of the country’s stock market
    Published: March 3, 2022 at 2:15 p.m. ET

    Russian stock exchange analyst Alexander Butmanov is toasting to what he is viewing as the death of the Russian stock market.

    Butmanov, founder of financial technology company DTI Algorithmic, appeared on a markets-centered television show only to pull out a soda and toast to the end of the market as he knows it, according to local media.

    “Rest in peace, dear comrade,” he said, according to a translation. . . .

    On Wednesday, Equity index provider MSCI Inc. called Russia’s equity markets “uninvestable” as the U.S. and other western countries impose harsh sanctions against the country.

    The Russian stock market has been closed since last week. No new investment is coming in any time soon. In a country the geographic size of Russia, shutting down the airline industry because of lack of parts and such will increase a lot of problems internally. Lack of capital will make surviving in these times tough, let alone trying to rebuild anything.

    And the Russian people know this.

    The old ones remember those USSR days, with the long lines for damn near every essential and shops with very restricted hours, limited goods, and currency restrictions. The young ones read about those days in school, but they are already beginning to get a first-hand experience of it, and that will get worse — much much worse.

    The protesters know this too, I think. Yes, they are protesting an unjust war, but they know the toll it will take on Russia from the smallest village to the heart of the Kremlin. As I said on the last thread, more protesters are coming out and getting arrested every day — because they know what is happening in Ukraine and what this means for Russia.

    What this means is not good. Regardless of what happens in Ukraine over the next few days, weeks, and months, *Russia* is about to have a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad summer.

    At least.

    • Badger Robert says:

      It would be fitting if people across Kansas, Nebraska, the Dakotas and Canada finally looked up and saw what naked aggression meant in terms of world hunger.

      • Rayne says:

        I’d hoped they would have clued in to the threats during Trump’s bullshit tariffs and trade war which savaged soybean sales to the benefit of Brazil and Trump’s buddy Bolsonaro.

        The map of vaccination uptake suggests otherwise.

      • Nord Dakota says:

        My brother is a 4th generation Minnesota farmer who raises wheat (and corn and soybeans). The lady who has done all our family’s taxes for decades is also a farmer (70 year old lady who took over the farm after a PTO accident killed her husband and operates it herself, on the tractor and combine, plus is a county commissioner plus has a busy bookkeeping and tax service). She is very community minded and I have always assumed a democrat, so I was surprised in 2020 to hear her talk about how much Trump had done for the farmers. I was an overnight guest and it was late so I didn’t try for a discussion. Asked my brother and he had no idea what she meant (he votes dem although he is not especially a liberal or political, I think it’s mostly family tradition there).

        • Scott Johnson says:

          She’s either a racist or a religious fundie, and confuses those things with agriculture?

  6. Badger Robert says:

    I was reading Mironov’s thread on Twitter and I thought maybe its overstated. Now I think it may be understated. What is the Russian government going to do? Will it erect a new Iron Curtain between Belarus and Poland?
    And how long before the army divisions that are deployed in Ukraine start fighting for basic quartermaster supplies instead of the Ukrainians?
    All of this occurs as Rayne has noted on top of a very high rate of excess deaths in Russia and Ukraine. And that implies a good deal of severe and mild Covid too.

    • Rayne says:

      Pull any thread in Russia’s economy and it will look a lot like aviation. Of course there are countries which won’t take sides and won’t implement sanctions, but how far do they get through the measures US+EU+other allies have already set up? Are they willing to damage their own economies to serve Russia? Can alternatives be set up within 2-3 weeks while Putin has shut down so much of the communications in and out of Russia, and while payment facilities may be non-existent?

      India is the one I think most challenging countries, even more so than China or Brazil. Brazil’s aerospace builds to their own tight specifications and economic regulations, whereas India has become increasing entwined with Russia’s aerospace. (How long the legs are on some of Putin’s ops, like the Buryakov spy case which was gathering intel on aerospace back in 2013-2015.)

      • Scott Johnson says:

        The wild card here, is China.

        So far, Beijing seems to be mainly sitting on the fence. Perhaps they will stay there.

        Or perhaps this ends with Ukraine in ruins and Russia effectively a Chinese vassal, supplying the People’s Republic with energy and other natural resources while China tells the West to take their sanctions and shove it, and keeps Russia afloat. China could play the same role for Putin that Russia played for Trump a while back… bailing someone out that looked like he had asked the dealer to hit him one two many times, and was about to be shown a face card and busted out of the game.

        • Peterr says:

          It’s a lot more complicated than that. China sees how the rest of the world rallied around Ukraine, and that will cause them to think twice about confronting the West down the road. It was highly significant that China did not vote against the big UN resolution, but merely abstained.

          China, with their eyes on Taiwan for decades, clearly would like to have a free hand to deal with (in their eyes) their wayward child and bring it back into Chinese control. Had Russia waltzed in and taken Ukraine with no pushback from the West, China likely would have considered taking a similar approach with Taiwan. For the moment, at least, that is not going to happen.

          Which is not to say China is not helping Russia. They clearly are, and will take a nice cut off the top of any money laundering or other help they give to Putin, Russian oligarchs, and Russia businesses. They have pointedly not agreed to support the sanctions imposed, and at this point seem to be playing both sides in a waiting game to see how this turns out.

          • gmoke says:

            I’ve heard that China never went along with Putin’s previous aggression in South Ossetia (Georgia) a few years ago and suspect that Xi would be more than happy to see “let’s you and him fight.”

            However, I can see Russia, China, and maybe India (!) begin to set up a balance to USAmerica and the EU but I, of course, know nothing.

    • Termagant says:

      “What is the Russian government going to do?”

      The most important thing is to fire up propaganda blaming it all on the west, NATO, and the USA.

        • Leoghann says:

          There’s been a huge market for his gaslighting and instigatory bullshit, as long as he’s kept it to politics and “morality.” His open agitation in favor of Russia and Putin, particularly in light of the reverence in which the Russian television markets hold him, and his visits to Russia and hero’s welcomes, may soon come into a much brighter light. A Russian asset is a Russian asset, and IMO should be treated as the traitors they are.

          • Scott Johnson says:

            The term “asset” needs to be used carefully; a better question is whether or not he is an “agent”.

            Anyone who is a useful idiot for Moscow can be considered an “asset”, without knowing it. Being an “asset” is not illegal;

            Being an “agent”–somebody knowingly working for a foreign power, can be, depending on the conduct. While a paid propagandist for a foreign power is not illegal; if Tucker or FOX is doing that, they would need to register under FARA. (There is no First Amendment exception to FARA, as it doesn’t regulate speech, only mandates disclosure of the agency relationship).

            Being a loyal Russian shill who is doing it for free (Pat Buchanan comes to mind; he’s long promoted the “Putin as savior of Christendom” nonsense, and there’s no reason to think he’s getting paid–it’s entirely consistent with his racist, anti-Semitic, and integrationalist worldview) does not require registration either.

            But if Putin does get deposed at some point, and a new Russian government reverses his actions and attempts to rejoin the world community–we could be surprised at who we find has been shilling under the table.

            • KM Williams says:

              ” Anyone who is a useful idiot for Moscow can be considered an “asset”…”

              I’m very interested in what the Murdochs are thinking & planning right now. They seem very pro-Putin, but there is the China factor, too. What will Lachlan, Rupert & Co. gain from the Ukrainian war?

            • Leoghann says:

              Good point, Scott J. Thanks. I mentioned in another comment that Cucker T should be registered under FARA.

      • xy xy says:

        It looks like the most important thing is, as McCain sang to the Beachboys tune, “Bomb, Bomb, Bomb”

  7. SVFranklinS says:

    Another excellent post by Rayne.

    I remain stunned by the breadth and depth of the effect of sanctions, and that the US & allies could agree and implement so quickly.

    It is something never been done before, and is a ferocious display of real power.
    Shutting down a whole airline industry, without firing a shot. Impressive.

    I do worry about the unintended consequences. Much unintended suffering among average people will ensue. With Putin rapidly imposing media/internet blackouts, the average Russian may just blame it on the vague “war”, for which Ukraine and the evil NATO Threat are said to be at fault.

    An important observer of all this will be Xi Jingping. He likely thought a sneaky action in Donbass, to bring wayward provinces back into Mother Russia, would be a great idea, and is likely as shocked as all of us at the indiscriminate shelling of apartment blocks and nuclear power facilities. And he will want to be sure he NEVER triggers a similar economic strike against China. Not until further independence from world markets in key areas (airplanes, semiconductors, etc.) can be established. Xi is many things, but he is not stupid, and I expect this display of US economic power has shaken him as well.

    • Zirc says:

      True, but the world has to develop a similar lack of dependency on China. For example, if the US doesn’t want to depend on China for computer chips and circuit cards, it either needs to produce them domestically and be willing to pay the extra costs, or it needs to go to other sources of supply: India, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines. . . We’re not there yet, and our putative allies certainly aren’t.


      • Scott Johnson says:

        Russia these days only produces (in amounts significant enough to have strategic effect) energy, and that can be gotten elsewhere, albeit at greater price.

        China would be far harder to embargo in this fashion; given its position in so many more global supply chains. On the other hand, China’s not quite a technology leader (though getting close) and its main advantages for producers have been labor and regulatory arbitrage, as well as the promise of the hugest market on Earth.

        • Zirc says:

          Yes, that largest market on earth part is difficult to work around, though soon, if not already, it will be the second largest market on earth. I am no fan of Modi, but I would think that China’s expansionist tendency to claim territory all around its borders would make him want to get closer to the US.


        • Leoghann says:

          Construction has already begun on a Taiwan Semiconductor plant that will be the largest in the US. It’s located about 50 miles south of here, at the far northern edge of the Phoenix megalopolis.

          • JohnJ says:

            This is a positive side effect of the chip shortage. The advantage of the chip industry is it always new equipment anyway. Unlike the auto industry who are experts at incremental upgrades, the IC manufacturing industry builds from scratch for new technology all the time. It is much easier to just build the next factory in a new place than to move and upgrade an existing factory.

            Where I work, the main IC we use in one of our product line’s manufacturer, is not promising any shipments for a year and a half out. The industries that use chips are pissed at the short sightedness of the companies putting all their production in china and it’s long bottle necked supply line. There is a lot of industry demand for shorter supply chains.

            I think we are going to see a big shift in the next few years.

          • KM Williams says:

            Really? A humongous factory in the middle of the desert, in the middle of a horrific drought? What could possibly go wrong?

            • James says:

              Indeed, how to get water. Production in a Great Lakes region state is smarter.

              [Welcome back to emptywheel. Please use a more differentiated username when you comment next as we have several community members named “James,” “Jim,” or “Jimmy,” including one of our contributors. My apologies for not making this request in your previous three comments at this site. Thanks. /~Rayne]

    • Kevin says:

      Well none of that matters because the materials needed for the components of chips need to be mined. And China owns about 90% of the mines. This is why China invests so much infostructure in Africa. That continent is rich in natural resources and because of a history of colonialism, the west is apt not to repeat their 1800’s adventures there. Mines for chips are hugely expensive and also polluting. The US has no mines active in the states and the even the minerals available there are not the rare high quality ones needed. China has no qualms though about supporting dictators and spending money on other countries infustruture in order to their materials. This feeds into their silk and belt road plan, their trying to build a canal thur Thailand to avoid the Singapore strait, and their naval base in Ethririta. Africa is their materials horde.

      [Welcome to emptywheel. Please use a more differentiated username when you comment next as we have several community members named “Kevin.” Thanks. /~Rayne]

  8. Fran of the North says:

    One other bit of fallout from the sanctions due to the invasion of Ukraine that hasn’t been discussed is refinancing DJT’s upcoming debt.

    The personal fortunes and much of the disposable cash of the Russian kleptocrats have been scattered to the winds in the past week. Elseweb I saw that a couple of handfuls of billionaires have been reduced to mere millionaires in the past week.

    Might that lack of liquidity and sudden need to impose fiscal discipline impact the ease and willingness to offer a hand to a less than stellar credit risk? And after calling the invasion a ‘holocaust’, he certainly isn’t on Putin’s guest list anymore.

    To coin a phrase: Dropping seas grounds many boats.

    • Rugger9 says:

      This is indeed a very worthwhile question, especially after the Mazars letter would likely make it near impossible for Individual-1 to restructure his debt from any respectable bank (and the rates will be brutal from everyone else).

      This is one reason why Individual-1 has been campaigning without filing the paperwork, because once he formally joins the 2024 race he has to use the money fleeced from the MAGA rubes in accordance with campaign laws which means no debt servicing. He’s made a lot of money doing this but I don’t think it will be enough.

    • Rugger9 says:

      This is indeed a very worthwhile question, especially after the Mazars letter would likely make it near impossible for Individual-1 to restructure his debt from any respectable bank (and the rates will be brutal from everyone else).

      This is one reason why Individual-1 has been campaigning without filing the paperwork, because once he formally joins the 2024 race he has to use the money fleeced from the MAGA rubes in accordance with campaign laws which means no personal debt servicing. He’s made a lot of money doing this but I don’t think it will be enough.

    • Jimmy Anderson says:

      Very good points – although I fear it maybe wishful thinking.
      I imagine that this is EXACTLY why DJT and Jared so assiduously courted the UAE.
      Maybe the upcoming Barrack investigation will reveal more.
      However it would seem likely that with the present world wide squeezes on fossil fuel availability, the Middle East oil and gas producers are going to be gouging in vast profits for the foreseeable future.

    • madwand says:

      And it would be nice if Trumps boat was high and dry on a little island surrounded by sharks, you know the credit sharks, the ones with the big teeth.

  9. greengiant says:

    Excellent post.
    A fine point. Suspect some things like seeds are already in place for 2022.
    Going to take some work for replacing hybrid seeds.
    Second not just manufacturing but maintenance.
    Similar in part to the US dependence on lowest cost vendor recently China and now places like Vietnam for all manner of parts not just consumer goods.

  10. Sprocket says:

    A little discussion of the wheat crops may be in order. My take would be that the situation is less dire than presented.

    You really have to think of two different crops: spring and winter wheats.
    Winter wheat was planted last fall and is well on its way to harvest in late spring/early summer. It should not be affected other than by fuel and parts problems for harvesting. Not sure the proportion of winter to spring wheat production in Russia, but Ukraine is almost entirely winter wheat, and Russia has a considerable percentage of winter wheat production. So, if they can harvest the winter wheat, they will have wheat for baking without any problems.

    The spring wheat is what is near planting time now, mainly in Russia’s colder, more northerly areas like Siberia.
    From what I read, Russia keeps a lot of its wheat from previous harvests, so they have wheat in storage there.
    It may not be usual practice, but it is always an option to clean that milling wheat and use it for seed. So, even if they can’t purchase spring wheat seed, they will have ample supply available for planting. And probably plenty in storage for milling and baking uses, too.

    So, in this one area I would disagree with the dire predictions in this post.

    • Peterr says:

      “So, if they can harvest the winter wheat, they will have wheat for baking without any problems.”

      That “if” is doing a lot of heavy lifting.

      Farming in Ukraine is also very much a family thing, and with many of the men busy taking up arms and many wives and children fleeing to other countries, that doesn’t leave a whole lot of folks to get on their tractors and bring in the wheat.

      From what I hear through NGOs who deal with disaster relief, they are anticipating a lot of need for their services once the gunfire ends. Counting on crops being harvested and new crops being planted is like wishing for a pony right now, and they are not counting on that.

      • Sprocket says:

        My comment is mainly about the availability of seed for planting, and that the winter wheat crop has long been in the ground and is near harvest. Wanted to dispel the notion that they’re desperate for seed or that they won’t have wheat to mill. I think neither of those is true for quite a while, even if they’re not able to harvest the new crop wheat. Above my pay grade to comment what the difficulties of harvesting may be, but I think they’re ok for wheat for a while, regardless.

        • Peterr says:

          In that large blockquote in the main post, it notes that 40% of Russia’s seed is imported. I think the ag corporations will follow the lead of airlines, tech companies, and others in refusing to sell to them. ADM has already shuttered their Ukrainian offices.

          Meanwhile, things were already looking grim in Ukraine before the events of the last week:

          Before the Feb 24. invasion, Ukraine was already facing a food crisis in the eastern part of the country due to the eight-year conflict with pro-Russian separatists. Roughly 28 per cent of people in the region were struggling with access to food, according to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

          “While the evolving situation remains unpredictable, expectations are high of a further deterioration of food security in the east and across the country,” the FAO said in a statement on Friday.

        • notjonathon says:

          I don’t know about wheat specifically, but for most crops grown today, you can’t just use the seeds from the previous harvest, because the seed providers are giving the farmers hybrids that are either sterile or will not breed true when planted.

          • Sprocket says:

            Wheat is not hybridized. Even seed from commercial varieties can be saved and planted. That’s why if push comes to shove, the Russians don’t have to buy or import seed. They can take a fraction of their stocks and use it for seed, and get a 40- to 60- fold return. This is not the case for most crops, but it is for wheat.

    • Rayne says:

      Dude. Please don’t post this kind of thin fresh-out-of-Wikipedia analysis.

      First, I posted about wheat FUTURES. Get it?

      Second, why do you think Russia imports any wheat seed at all? BECAUSE THEY DON’T KEEP ALL THE SEED THEY NEED FROM THEIR PREVIOUS HARVESTS. If they haven’t sold all their grain from last year and use more for seed now instead of importing it, it will cut into both exports and their own food supply.

      I have enough to deal with right now than respond to drive-by first timers who post weak sauce and trolls who drop disinfo here. Up your game.

      • Sprocket says:

        First-timer, but not a drive-by or wikipedian. I’ve worked for 30 years in grain, primarily wheat, and have some experience with Ukrainian and Russian wheat.

        You wrote about high futures prices affecting their ability to buy seed. As I noted, it’s probably not their usual practice, but they can absolutely get seed from the large percentage of their previous wheat crop that they store. This is still the practice some places in the US, and would not be a problem for them to do.
        And they will have a brand new crop hitting the bins in a few months if they can harvest it. So, there is no near-term problem for them with either seed or milling wheat.

        I admire and appreciate all the work here, and read it daily.

        • Rayne says:

          And yet you haven’t also considered what happens with the incoming winter wheat crop — any equipment failure along the way in Russia will be far more problematic than usual, impacting processed food in the short term, not the long term.

          The price of ALL wheat, seed or for consumption, will be affected by the loss of winter wheat crop in Ukraine (grain silos make nice targets as do equipment at ports and terminals for offloading into trucks and containers) as well as the increasing difficulties Russia will face. There will be Russians who want to capitalize on increased cash prices for wheat, potentially affect the amount of seed reserved.

          And I’ve worked in non-listed grain brokerage. Don’t get me started on pulses.

          • Sprocket says:

            One of my assumptions would be that if there is a crop, Russian farmers will get it harvested come hell or high water. That comes from knowing farm-level ingenuity here, but expecting it’s similar there.

            Another assumption is that world prices will not matter in Russia, because 1) they have the wheat & seed already in-country, and 2) if prices do get in the way somehow–traders selling off grain, for instance–that Putin will make that stop.

            Food security is pretty basic. There’s a reason US farmers didn’t go to WWII. Final assumption is that Putin will see to the wheat.

            Those assumptions are all outside my wheelhouse, so I could be wrong, but I think they’re reasonable.

  11. Raven Eye says:

    We touched on wheat a couple of posts back, but this deeper dive is illuminating. If I had to monitor just one commodity for impacts during this crisis, wheat would get my nomination. It sets on the table (sorry, Punaise) almost every other infrastructure sector, and has a huge humanitarian impact as well.

    “Wheat” is a system that has grown increasingly complex and finely tuned over the past century and is truly global. If you manage to get it planted, grown, and harvested — you need to move it. Energy, petrochemicals, industrial manufacturing, engineering and construction, transportation, housing, etc.

    How will it play out? I am reminded of another saying: “If you’re not part of the solution, there’s good money to be made in prolonging the problem”.

    China. More than happy to receive shipping containers that the lessors don’t want inside Russia. Ports to load and unload. Maritime services. Transshipment services. Rail and truck. Labor management (jobs for Russians). And the Chinese will be happy so see the influence of Russia diminish in nations where they are competitive (actually, quite a bargaining chip). And they have the Belt and Road. That isn’t a perfect solution*, but it does connect. You can bet the lines to shipping agents dealing with China have been red hot.

    And all the other international grain producers. They’ve been watching this for months.

    *The most efficient method of moving grain is in seagoing bulk carriers. After that; inland barges, covered rail hopper cars, and trucks. One Columbia River barge equals 35 jumbo hoppers (much larger than European hopper cars), or 134 truckloads.

    • rip says:

      Sorry, Raven Eye, I can’t follow the consequences.

      China is very happy to use the empty shipping containers. (I think there are also plenty around the world.)

      Will Russia benefit by the Chinese re-use? What form of payment will be acceptable? Will this help Russia get needed goods back into their country?

  12. johnc says:

    Russia will feel immense pain for the short term, but in the end China will bail Russia out in exchange for raw materials and the ability to develop an international trading mechanism not beholden to the US. We can sanction Russia for a short while, at least until Europe’s need for gas becomes too great. We won’t sanction China, least of all for being a back channel for goods to Russia.

    • Leoghann says:

      They’re just another variety of orb weaver, and a beautiful one at that. They’re remarkable and fun to watch.

  13. Leoghann says:

    That Twitter thread by Jan Nedivek mentioned at the very end that it was just reported that the AvtoVAZ plant has closed, claiming a four-day shut down. He didn’t really mention the import of this. That isn’t just one auto plant of many, like when a GM or Ford plant goes down here. AvtoVAZ is the major automobile company in Russia. They account for 20%-25% of the new car sales in Russia, including imports.

    Renault owns a 25% stake in the company, and has for 15 years. AvtoVAZ is almost completely dependent on Renault and their suppliers for parts. Renault has already given complete assurance that they will abide by the sanctions. Even though it will mean a financial hit, it’s a hit they can take.

    If the plant does reopen, it will only be a short time before they run out of parts. As we’ve seen in the American market with automotive computer chips, even the absence of one essential part means a shut down. And this is just one industry.

    Regarding the wheat crops, on Wednesday I happened to talk with an old friend who was a grain broker for Cargill for 25 years, and worked for them for 40. The crop issue came up, and he said that Russia probably has enough wheat stored to keep them from food shortages for a year. After that, spoilage becomes a problem. But, as notjonathon mentioned above, modern seed is hybrid and trademarked. It has to be replaced annually, because the plants it grows are for the most part sterile, or useless.

    He said that, while Russia is self-sufficient for wheat, other crops are a different matter. Potato farmers are completely reliant on hybrid seed stock, and the new varieties do not produce seed stock. Pretty much the rest of their food production depends on imports.

    The other big problem is that food doesn’t happen if nothing can be planted or harvested. Cuba developed an amazing industry for spare parts and repair when the US cut off the supply of cars in the late Fifties, but that was when cars were mechanical objects. Now, everything is electromechanical. The hard-ass farmer who insists on using and repairing his old equipment may not be harmed badly, but without parts and service manuals, all of which are on-line instead of hard paper copies, the newer machines will be statuary as soon as they have a minor breakdown.

    • Sprocket says:

      Wheat is not hybridized. It is open-pollinated and seed may be saved and planted. Storage longer than a year is possible in colder regions with good practices, but not necessary if they’re able to harvest new winter and spring wheat crops.
      And farmers will surprise you with what they can make work.

        • Sprocket says:

          Yes, hybridized wheats exist. They are a tiny fraction of world wheat production and not relevant to this discussion. The wheat we are talking about in Russian bins and fields is not hybridized.

      • FL Resister says:

        Thank you. I admire your persistence.
        The multi-year political chaos, pandemic, and now war of Russian aggression in Ukraine are enough.
        It’s good to know there’s a workaround for famine.

  14. e.a.f. says:

    good article. Shopping in Russia will be like shopping in Russia in the 1960s! It will certainly be a surprise for the younger generations of Russian consumers. If things become very bad in Russia we may see Russians trying to leave. How they will do that will be “interesting”, given air lines aren’t going to be flying there.

    The lack of wheat from Ukraine will be a problem for countries which import it and may result in starvation in some countries. We can only hope the wheat growing areas of Canada and the U.S.A. don’t experience a drought this summer.

    Putin isn’t going any where. He will most likely jail oligarchs who criticism him from within Russia and if protests in the streets become to large, he will simply have people shot for protesting.

  15. skua says:

    Putin seems to have accidently wounded himself.
    He can’t now move to bolster his position by becoming “a war president” because he already is one.
    Anyone see a way that becoming a “nuclear war president” would give Putin a better outcome?
    I want the answer to be, “No”.

  16. madwand says:

    According to reporters and analysts quoted on MSNBC last night they are claiming that it is Chechens who were involved in the fight for the nuclear power plant. Secondly Ukrainians both on the ground and in the air have been more active than thought in delaying the 40 mile column of vehicles north of Kyiv. Vindman has reported that two units one at least a guards unit which functions as cavalry, perhaps a vanguard,have been rendered ineffective. The Ukrainian air force is still flying apparently and giving the Russian aircraft a hard time while also dropping ordinance on the column. This is keeping Russian aircraft from interdicting supply efforts from West Ukraine which are increasing. Russians are moving to cutoff supplies coming from the Black Sea as they move on Odessa, which is preparing to give them a fight. The West providing an air cap over Ukraine is still a non starter. Kharkiv putting up a good fight and Kyiv also, however Russian units are moving against smaller municipalities north west and east of Kyiv and encirclement is a good bet.

  17. Jenny says:

    Thanks Rayne.

    Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom | Full Feature | Free on YouTube
    In just 93 days, what started as peaceful student demonstrations became a violent revolution. Netflix documentary Winter on Fire brings you the story of Ukraine’s fight for freedom from the frontlines of the 2014 uprising.

    • Jenny says:

      Caution: This documentary is violent, rough and raw.
      The strength and courage of the Ukrainians – STELLAR. United Ukrainians in 2014 stood up against the government to belong to the EU. This documentary certainly puts the current events into perspective.

  18. gmoke says:

    The first rule of climate change seems to be that nobody can talk about climate change. Certainly I’m not seeing it with the TV talking heads as they discuss natural gas and higher gasoline prices as a weapon of economic warfare nor am I seeing it here where UN FAO reported that global food prices rose over 20% from 2020 to 2021 due to bad weather and lower harvest.

    Here’s an article that gives some climate context for Ukraine and Russia. Turns out there’s been a drought:

    • FL Resister says:

      If it’s any comfort, the argument for renewable energy gets stronger with the increasing pressures on oil which is dirty in more than one way.
      Question is, will anyone prominent in the Democratic Party make that point a priority?
      (Looking at you Joe Biden)

  19. Badger Robert says:

    I expect the EU will not passively watch another attempt at genocide. How they will intervene is yet to be determined.

  20. Kenster42 says:

    Thank you for this. I’ve been telling my friend group for some time that the ubiquity and comprehensiveness of the sanctions on Russia, from banking to internet to consumer goods to planes to cars to whatever, are going to truly grind the country to a halt and push them back to probably 1960’s level existence. No air travel, no credit cards, no internet, no Amazon, limited food options etc. etc. etc. Anyone there who became sentient after the fall of the USSR is in for a rude awakening as the country regresses in front of their eyes.

    While I sort of expected the West to band together quickly on this and thought it would be pretty comprehensive given how much the electronic and shipping global village has tightened over the last 10 years, I was completely stunned with how quickly it all came together.

    The sad part is that it’s going to have to get really, really bad before Putin even considers doing anything. Many private sector, government and military elites owe their power and/or fortunes directly to Putin (as he planned) and are going to be very difficult to dissuade in the near term, which is why if we want to end the invasion sooner rather than later the West as an organism has to quickly strategize and determine the off-ramps that can be offered to Putin so he can save face and get out of this. Otherwise, we’re looking at a really long slog.

    • Rayne says:

      IMO, Putin will do nothing. He’s going to hide out in his billion-dollar dacha with his playthings while the rest of the country screws up its courage to have its own vosstaniye/uprising.

      The people haven’t yet figured it out, that they outnumber their keepers. Just look at this video from a protest today.

      They’ve been protesting in front of the Kremlin as well.

  21. madwand says:

    For the second time in history Russians have put the world in jeopardy with the threat of the use of nuclear weapons. People should have no doubts, Putin and his military strategists have thought this out. It helps to look at this as two wars one active and the other passive with the possibility of becoming active. In the active war, the Russians did not pursue a shock and awe campaign thinking they would walk right in and it would be all over in 4 days. Stiff resistance in the cities especially in the north have hampered Russian advances however they are slowly surrounding and constricting all the major cities. This fixation in the north is just that, it has fixed Ukrainian armies involved in the north while Russian units run rampant in the south and southeast along the long line in the Donbas and along the coast towards Odessa. At this time there are three encirclement’s going on, one around the armies defending the south East the second around the Donbas line of fixed trenches, and the third around Kyiv. Kharkiv is isolated and some reports indicate that Kyiv is now surrounded. Analysts believe it is only a matter of time before Ukraine falls and the Russians don’t have to destroy the capital or Kharkiv they could starve it out. Ukrainians themselves believe without a western cap over the country they will fall. Right now the cap is out.

    As far as the wider conflict Putin has rightly concluded that the west will not risk nuclear war over though the positioning of anti aircraft units such as the S400 may mean Putin has anticipated that the west will respond. In fact and this is speculation Putin may even want the west to respond as a prelude to a wider conflict, it would give him justification to move into formerly Soviets held territory. So in the military parlance of fixing Putin has for the moment fixed any western response and contained to NATO countries again for the moment which gives him free reign in Ukraine. Putin believes it’s casus belli if the west established a cap or invaded from the west, he’s considering sanctions an act of war, and so far the west is not responding in any way to change the current military situation.

    IMHO Putin may force the west into a response but it will be at his choosing and not ours. Already there is a carrier in the north Adriatic, probably more in the Med, and 90,000 U.S. troops are in the European theater. Vindman says Russians have suffered 11,000 KIA but there is no way to verify this and it doesn’t seem to matter to Putin even if true. We need to come up with another strategy rather than have the threat of nuclear annihilation hanging over our heads what may be indefinitely. This would mean listening to strategists, generals, and admirals, the fighting kind who have been sidelined too long.

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