Playing Jenga the Russian Trade Edition

[NB: Check the byline, please and thanks. /~Rayne]

If you’ve played Jenga, you know many pieces can be pulled out of the tower of blocks and added to the top before the tower collapses. The trick is knowing how many pieces and which pieces must remain if the tower is to remain standing during its ongoing construction.

Now that Russia’s economy is heavily sanctioned, let’s play Jenga with Russian commodities. Which export commodities will be most affected? Which importing countries might be most affected?

I’ve spent a little time looking at Russia’s exports, concentrating on those where Russia’s products are a large part of the market. The picture is complicated. (It’s also not complete here, there are a few gaps which aren’t easy to fill.)

Context also matters which this simplistic look doesn’t offer. It should give us something to discuss and to consider outcomes.

Look at refined petroleum as an example. Within the last few years the US has been the largest importer at 7.84% of the total global export volume, but the US is also the largest exporter at 12.3%. While refined petroleum means more than one product — including ‘Mineral fuels, mineral oils and products of their distillation’ as well as ‘Oils petroleum, bituminous, distillates’ (under Harmonized Tariff Code 271000) — sanctions on Russia’s refined petroleum aren’t likely to affect export/import of US’s refined petroleum products.

Where sanctions will pose more serious challenges: smaller countries which may have relied on Russia because of negotiated finance terms which kept them in Russia’s political orbit, sometimes through secondaries. Think Cuba as one example (for good or ill, it’s not an IMF member) and its relationship with Venezuela. These countries may have difficulty obtaining materials in the market if they are crowded out by larger countries with better financing vehicles.

Here are the top products exported by Russia listed in order by total value:

Largest export product

Value USD

World Rank

Largest Importer

1 Crude Petroleum


2nd – 12.5%

2nd in daily production

(2019 data)

1 – China ($204B) – 20.7%

2 – United States ($123B)

3 – India ($92.7B)

4 – South Korea ($67.4B)

5 – Japan ($64B)

Note: all EU combined ($276B, 2017)

2 Refined Petroleum


1st- 9.62% (2019 data)

1 – United States ($54B) – 7.84%

2 – Netherlands ($41.8B)

3 – Singapore ($41.4B)

4 – Mexico ($29.3B)

5 – Germany ($23.5B)

3 Unspecified commodities

– Barley

– Buckwheat

– Oats

– Rye


– Barley – 1st

– Buckwheat – 1st

– Oats – 1st

– Rye – 3rd


1 – China 10K MT

2 – Saudi Arabia 6K MT

3 – Turkey 2.7K MT

4 – Iran 2.6K MT

5 – EU-27 1.3K MT

6 – Japan 1.2K MT

7 – Thailand 1.2K MT

8 – Libya 850 MT

9 – Jordan 800 MT

10 – Viet Nam 800 MT

Buckwheat: TBD


1 – United States 1.3K MT

2 – China 350 MT

3 – Mexico 150 MT

4 – Peru 50 MT

5 – Switzerland 50 MT

6 – Chile 50 MT

7 – EU-27 50 MT

8 – India 50 MT

9 – Japan 50 MT

10 – South Korea 25 MT


1 – United States 241 MT

2 – EU-27 60 MT

3 – Israel 30 MT

4 – Japan 20 MT

5 – Turkey 20 MT

6 – Norway 10 MT

7 – Kazakhstan 6 MT

8 – South Korea 5 MT

9 – United Kingdom 5 MT

10 – Belarus 3 MT

4 Coal


2nd – 14.4%

(bituminous, not briquettes)

(2019 data)

1 – Japan ($19.3B) – 20.3%

2 – China ($15.8B)

3 – India ($11B)

4 – South Korea ($10.3B)

5 – Taiwan ($5.27B)

5 Petroleum Gas


4th – 8.77% 1 – China ($47.8B) – 15.9%

2 – Japan ($42.3B)

3 – South Korea ($21.8B)

4 – India ($16.4B)

5 – Italy ($15.8B)

6 Wheat


3rd 1 – Egypt 13K MT

2 – Turkey 11K MT

3 – Indonesia 11K MT

4 – China 9K MT

5 – Algeria 7.7K MT

6 – Bangladesh 7.4K MT

7 – Iran 7K MT

8 – Brazil 6.5K MT

9 – Philippines 6.5K MT

10 – Nigeria 6.2K MT

7 Semi-Finished Iron


1st – 27.1% (2019 data)

1 – United States ($2.79B) – 10.8%

2 – Taiwan ($2.22B)

3 – Indonesia ($1.7B)

4 – South Korea ($67.4B)

5 – Egypt ($1.62B)

8 Gold


less than 7% (2019 data)

1 – United Kingdom ($65B) – 19%

2 – Switzerland ($63.5B)

3 – China ($41.5B)

4 – India ($33.8B)

5 – United Arab Emirates ($31.8B)

9 Platinum


1st – 16% (2019 data)

1 – United Kingdom ($6.83B) – 16.8%

2 – United States ($6.69B)

3 – Germany ($6.01B)

4 – Japan ($4.22B)

5 – China ($2.78B)

10 Raw Aluminum


2nd – 10.1% (2019)
1 – United States ($8.63B) – 16.8%
2 – Japan ($4.44B)
3 – Germany ($4.44B)
4 – Netherlands ($3.36B)
5 – South Korea ($2.9B)
11 Sawn Wood


2nd – 12.4% (2019 data)

1 – China ($7.36B) – 20%

2 – United States ($6.01B)

3 – Japan ($2.03B)

4 – United Kingdom ($1.95B)

5 – Germany ($1.45B)

12 Oils


13 Copper


less than 3%

(copper bars)

(2019 data)

1 – China ($474M) – 9.17%

2 – Germany ($438M)

3 – United States ($395M)

4 – Italy ($392M)

5 – France ($226M)

14 Diamonds


less than 4%

(all diamond types)

(2019 data)

1 – India ($21.4B) – 20.7%

2 – Hong Kong ($18.6B)

3 – United States ($17.9B)

4 – Belgium ($12B)

5 – United Arab Emirates ($9.56B)

15 Chemical Fertilizers

– Nitrogen

– Phosphorus

– Potassium


– Nitrogen – 1st

– Phosphorus – TBD

– Potassium – 2nd (potassic fertilizers)

Nitrogen TBD

Phosphorus TBD

Potassic fertilizers (2019)

1 – Brazil ($2.98B) – 18.4%

2 – United States ($2.81B)

3 – China ($2.34B)

4 – India ($1.25B)

5 – Indonesia ($716M)

16 Nitrogenous Fertilizers


1st – 12.9% (2019 data)

1 – India ($2.71B) – 11.4%

2 – Brazil ($2.36B)

3 – United States ($2.17B)

4 – France ($1.14B)

5 – Turkey ($808M)

17 Frozen Fish


11th (fillets) – 2.48% (2019 data)

1 – United States ($3.02B) – 19.1%

2 – Japan ($1.98B)

3 – Germany ($1.42B)

4 – United Kingdom ($930M)

5 – France ($855M)

18 Hot-Rolled Iron


6th – 5.25% (2019 data)

1 – Italy ($3.35B) – 6.82%

2 – Vietnam ($3.24B)

3 – Germany ($2.86B)

4 – South Korea ($2.19B)

5 – Turkey ($2.1B)

19 Gas Turbines


less than 2% of global total (2019 data)

1 – United States ($36.5B) – 22.9%

2 – Germany ($11.2B)

3 – China ($9.44B)

4 – Singapore ($8.37B)

5 – France ($8.14B)

20 Potassic Fertilizers


3rd – 15.1% (2019 data)

1 – Brazil ($2.98B) – 18.4%

2 – United States ($2.81B)

3 – China ($2.34B)

4 – India ($1.25B)

5 – Indonesia ($716M)

Here are export products besides those in the list above for which Russia is among the top five exporters in the world.


Largest export product


World Rank

Largest Importer

Cabbage and other brassicas


3rd TBD


3rd TBD


3rd TBD
Carrots and turnips


3rd TBD
Pumpkin, squash, and gourds


3rd TBD


3rd TBD
Sunflower seed


2nd TBD




1st TBD


1st TBD


1st TBD




4th Chicken meat:

1 – Japan 1K MT

2 – Mexico 940 MT

3 – China 800 MT

4 – United Kingdom 675 MT

5 – EU-27 635 MT

6 – Saudi Arabia 625 MT

7 – United Arab Emirates 445 MT

8 – Philippines 400 MT

9 – Iraq 375 MT

10 – South Africa 370 MT


Bast fibre


2nd TBD


4th TBD


Sawnwood (sawn wood and dimensional lumber)

See above

See above See above
Wood-based panels (plywood, particleboard, fiberboard, and veneer sheets)


3rd – 9.31% (2019 data)

1 – United States ($2.47B) – 16.7%

2 – Japan ($1.38B)

3 – Germany ($982M)

4 – South Korea ($714M)

5 – United Kingdom ($682M)

It’s easy to discount some of these commodities as inconveniences if they aren’t readily available. But for a country like Germany for which more than 40% of its GDP relies on exports which in turn require raw material imports, it’s not as easy to say a gooseberry or cabbage shortage is no big deal when it exports a lot of jam or kraut.  That iron whether semi-finished or hot-rolled may be short is a problem for a country whose largest industry is automotive with one in ten Germans working for that industry.

25.5% of Russia’s GDP relies on exports with much of the volume and income consisting of fossil fuels. In years when fossil fuels have been volatile, other commodities like agricultural products have kept GDP elevated. With the sanctions Russia’s GDP is already taken a beating. It could try to sell to neutral countries, but some of them may not have the financing or come with other risks. What could Venezuela offer, for example, when more than 80% of its own exports are fossil fuels in direct competition with Russia’s? Venezuela isn’t likely to want rubles even if it did have something to offer Russia.

Russia could trade with Mexico which has declared its neutrality. But efforts to increase trade would come at the expense of Mexico’s relationship with the US which buys more than 75% of Mexico’s exports in comparison with less than 3% Mexico exports to Russia.

The more immediate problem for Russia isn’t just that its industries are forced to scramble to find alternative buyers while imports needed for production are substantially more expensive now that rubles have lost most of their buying power. Or that their workers are or will be very unhappy with their wages which have also lost buying power.

It’s that they can’t make enough materiel fast enough to replace what has been destroyed in its 21 days of war on Ukraine. There won’t be enough electronics without some sort of submission on the part of Russia to China, in the same submissiveness exhibited by asking China for MREs for its troops.

There will be tectonic shifts in the marketplace because of the sanctions. India may play a much bigger role in filling the world’s wheat demand, as Dr. Sarah Taber noted in a Twitter thread this week. But it’s going to take time to ramp up a sustained place for India in the wheat market, and the amount of time is damned hard to predict when talking about a country which still plants, harvests, processes, and packages a considerable amount of its wheat using methods predating the 20th century. India is trying to scale up its seaports, but its largest seaport Port of Kandla is the size of Corpus Christi, TX. The changes are necessary immediately, not another crop season away even if India has a longer, more versatile growing season.

The upside to India as a wheat exporter is the physical location of Port of Kandla and its proximity to the markets which will need it most and urgently in the Middle East and Northern Africa.

And none of this figures COVID’s impact on agricultural labor. We’re kidding ourselves this is not a contributing factor to Russia’s problematic military deployment when we can see it’s a problem in our US labor force. It will be a problem in other countries which are now looked to as alternatives to Russian exports and we haven’t yet seen the worst of Omicron subvariant BA.2.

What are the other short-term challenges sanctions on Russia and war on Ukraine will cause? Pull another Jenga piece…in addition to all the damage wreaked on Ukraine, roughly 10% of its exports went to Russia. Ukraine may not miss the rubles for now, but they’ll need trade to replace that once the war is over.

Let’s hope military adviser to Ukraine’s President Zelenskyy is right in his prediction this won’t be a protracted war.




Index Mundi:

Observatory of Economic Complexity: (2019)

147 replies
  1. Rayne says:

    After doing all the reading on wheat ex/im, I chuckled at the notion the US might buy Indian wheat and stockpile it in silos someplace like Seattle. As if US grain growers associations wouldn’t have a kitten on their members of Congress about that.

    I don’t even think wheat is an authorized import from India. I would hate like hell to have to handle the necessary import paperwork even if it was. The US is pretty shitty about the pesticides (like neonicotinoids) and herbicides it uses which other countries don’t, but there are some which have been banned in the US which may still be used in India, potentially contaminating their wheat. Not to mention other contaminants like mildews and rusts and other infectious plant diseases.

    EDIT — 2:10 AM 19-MAR-2022 —
    I can’t flipping believe I did this, I copied the name “Chinese Taipei” from the source when copying the import data. That’s PRC’s name for the autonomous sovereign republic which calls itself Taiwan, an error equivalent to calling Ukraine by Russia’s name for it, “the Ukraine.” I’m correcting this now. Also fixing the reference to “Korea, Republic of” (ROK) to “South Korea” for consistency; I’d used two different sources with different naming conventions. ROK and South Korea are the same but the latter is more familiar to Americans.

    • Rugger9 says:

      Excellent read, Rayne. I wonder how seriously the COVID threat is taken in India given the general laissez faire attitude about modernity, cleanliness and vaccinations (the PRC also suffers from this, but not to the degree that India does). When combined with the labor-intensive methods I wonder how well India could do supplying wheat. Does anyone have the latest vax / hospitalization numbers for India, and has Modi pulled a DeSantis to limit the visibility?

    • Ravenclaw says:

      I’ve purchased Indian wheat in the form of chapati flour (which also has some barley I think), so it can’t be 100% banned unless the nice lady who runs the Oriental Pantry is secretly a nefarious smuggler. Can’t speak to the possibility of trace pesticides or infectious diseases, but I did get one heck of an outbreak of mealy bugs a month or so later. Not that they are unheard-of in American flour!

      • Rayne says:

        Consumer and restaurant quantities are permitted for import. But having worked in export/import for grains, that chapati flour went through a butt-load of documentation to get into the country and it was already heavily processed and packaged. Big vessels of unprocessed wheat purchased to sit in silos are an entirely different beast. At a minimum it’s going to have to meet US specifications, not including restrictions on contaminants including fumigants like methyl bromide.

        As for the meal moths: put the flour in a plastic bag and freeze thoroughly for a week, then remove from freezer and store in a sealed plastic container. Clean your cupboards thoroughly to remove any larvae the last infestation caused. Don’t overlook seeds and nuts in your pantry as a source of meal moths.

        • Ravenclaw says:

          Thanks – didn’t know there were separate regulations for consumer quantities. (Oh, and that outbreak was years ago! But at the time your advice would have been most helpful!)

          • Rayne says:

            Chapati flour is finely ground whole wheat flour with a higher amount of gluten. You can use King Arthur or Bob’s Red Mill with an additional teaspoon of wheat gluten to each cup of whole wheat. No need to go looking for meal moths from overseas.

      • Sprocket says:

        The list of countries from which USDA APHIS totally prohibits the entry of wheat as grain is long, and includes India, Russia, and Ukraine:
        Afghanistan; Algeria; Armenia;
        Australia; Azerbaijan; Bangladesh;
        Belarus; Bulgaria; Chile; China;
        Cyprus; Egypt; Estonia; Falkland
        Islands (Malvinas); Georgia;
        Greece; Guatemala; Hungary;
        India; Iran; Iraq, Israel; Italy;
        Japan; Kazakhstan;
        Korea, Democratic People’s
        Republic (North Korea);
        Korea, Republic of (South Korea);
        Kyrgyzstan; Latvia; Libya;
        Lithuania; Moldova (Republic of);
        Morocco; Nepal; Oman; Pakistan;
        Portugal; Romania; Russian
        Federation (Russia); Spain;
        Tajikistan; Tanzania (United
        Republic of); Tunisia; Turkey;
        Turkmenistan; South Africa;
        Ukraine; Uzbekistan; Venezuela

        But flour or even less processed varieties of wheat can come in without much trouble. As long as it can’t sprout, APHIS doesn’t worry about it much.

    • Alan Charbonneau says:

      I think of the interconnected global economy as Jenna but with each block have 3 or 4 strings connected to another block. Markets will adjust, but it will be a messy process and and the adjustments will be expensive.

  2. Tom Marney says:

    The upside to India as a wheat *exporter* is the physical location of Port of Kandla…

    [Thanks, now corrected. I keep telling myself not to write and publish in the middle of the night because errors but…~shrug~ /~Rayne]

    • Rugger9 says:

      Also there is potential for the rare earth metals which can be extracted from nickel tailings. Given their importance these days, it is the potential that can’t be ignored if not fully exploited yet.

      • Sonso says:

        Yet another example of how/why the US’s avoidance of engagement in Africa is such a disaster. If we weren’t so racist, we could have done so much good there, and solidified civil institutions, but nooooo.

        • Rayne says:

          Um, colonialism is racist. The US could and should have done more to invest in raw materials producers while otherwise butting out of African countries’ governance, but no — instead they quasi-occupied part of northern Kenya for access to Somalia, leaving much of the rest of the continent to PRC investment in DRC for cobalt and Wagner Group fucking around everywhere else.

    • Rayne says:

      Here’s the top ten exporters of Nickel Ore in 2019:

      Indonesia ($1.16B) – 31.3%
      Philippines ($650M) – 17.4%
      New Caledonia ($448M) – 12%
      Australia ($309M) – 8.29%
      Finland ($242M) – 6.49%
      Canada – 6.4%
      Zimbabwe – 6.16%
      United States – 4.74%
      Cote d’Ivoire – 3.83%
      South Africa – 0.91%

      Do you see Russia on that list? Unless there are concerns about a very specific Harmonized Tariff Code subset of Nickel Ore (HS 2604), Russia is not a thing. In fact their exports of Nickel Ore fell 2018-2019 by double digits two years in a row.

  3. Badger Robert says:

    Great post, thanks.
    The immediate impact of the trade sanctions might not be too great. But the long term view of the reliability of Russia as a trade partner could be significant.

  4. Badger Robert says:

    The Covid issue is significant. Many people over age 50 either died or were seriously ill.
    At the other end people age 16-36 are in demographic valley Russia and Ukraine experienced during the fall of the Soviet Union. And those men who are that age in Russia are much moire likely to be westernized and not eager to kill Ukrainians.
    The world does not want a protracted insurgent war in Ukraine which damages Ukraine and allows Russia to expel and kill Ukrainians. And true Russian interests are not benefited by that either.

    • Rayne says:

      I saw something yesterday which I didn’t chase because of this post — but it looked like China may be negotiating passive support for Ukraine in exchange for mRNA vaccines since its Sinovax is not as effective against Omicron variants. US-EU-CELAC-ASEAN-AU supply chains could be at risk if we don’t do this as it is.

      I’ll get hammered about this, but this is why dispensing mRNA vaccines around the globe without certain security assurances was not necessarily in everyone’s best interests. Assuming COVID has played some role in military performance, imagine if Russia’s military had been vaccinated with mRNA a year ago instead of its own Sputnik V vaccine. Ukraine as an occupied territory could be a foregone conclusion.

  5. earthworm says:

    Global trade is great, and was supposed to strengthen global cooperation and raise standards of living (Clinton, WTO and all) but over-long lines of supply have once again revealed their vulnerabilities. Use less and trade in your neighborhood seem like outdated homilies, but really, are they?
    Stan Cox’s “The Path to a Livable Future” (City Lights Books) is worth reading.

    • Rugger9 says:

      Globalization is worthwhile as an option. When doing supply chains, there needs to be a mix of sources so that when one goes down the others can step up. However, the recent corporate model of cost-cutting means that otherwise available capacity is bypassed for cheap overseas sourcing while winking at the environmental and societal damages. So, the eggs are in one basket and any disruption causes shutdowns. This is intensified if qualifications (i.e. for medical device or aerospace materials / components) are required to bring on alternate sources.

      It’s especially true with bottlenecks such as sea transport, etc. where lead times and safety stock have to cover the risks but even that is constrained by the just-in-time (JIT) model that minimizes on-site inventory (and being taxed on it) for many companies. I know I try to eliminate bottlenecks in my commute, deciding long ago to make sure I never have to cross a bridge to get to work. Around here, if one doesn’t get on the bridge by 6:30, some idiot will do something stupid to block traffic. The event varies by the day, but the timing is pretty consistent.

      You’re never stuck if you have options.

    • Rayne says:

      Dude, really? Globalization led to this:

      Hunger is no longer a function of supply or distribution as much as it is politics. The only reason there are any hungry people in the US is purely politics, and one party in particular wants it that way.

      • Alan Charbonneau says:

        “Hunger is no longer a function of supply or distribution as much as it is politics”

        I imagine you mean more “hunger” generally. But for the worst form of hunger, famine as a weapon, it’s been that way for a long time.

        Statin’s terror famine in Ukraine was welll before I was born, but in 1967 I was 13 and I recall the famine in Biafra, replete with magazine covers showing children with distended tummies. The state of Biafra existed from 1967 – 1970, and the famine was the result of a total blockade of the country, i.e. a form of genocide by the Nigerian government.

        The Ethiopia 1983–1985 famine was also about politics, the “kill your political enemy by starving them” school.

        But Russia cannot replicate the Stalin famine again, even if the war disrupts things for a few more mos. They may cause damage to the farming economy, but Ukraine is about 87% the size of Texas, so damage whether to trees or farmland will be limited.

        • Rayne says:

          What was shipping into Biafra like in the mid/late 1960s? I do know what it was like in the mid/late 1980s to export/import into Ethiopia; it was a major pain in the ass, uncertain if any grain/seed product would arrive intact when it was shipping in ‘grape bulk’ (burlap bagged, roped together) at that time. Good luck with tracking shipments’ location; good luck with the related banking. I still think of one shipment of niger seed in particular to this day which was lost for six-plus weeks with daily Telex messages between my company’s office and the Banco de Bilbao about its delivery, a letter of credit open and waiting for confirmation it arrived at its FOB location. An absolute nightmare when even phone calls were challenging.

          Famine was not just a political issue. The lack of global distribution infrastructure along with a lack of global media visibility enabled famine. Politics merely weaponized this.

          ADDER: This is what I used to send overseas communications with in the mid-1980s. I would have to type out a punched tape and then feed it into the machine after dialing the Telex number. This is how I communicated with banks, buyers, sellers, port authorities, customs departments, freight forwarding companies before we had reliable telephone service in some locations and when our time zones were very much out of sync in others. Wrote and sent weekly crop reports on this beast. Now imagine trying to track a single shipment of grain or seed with this.

          • Alan Charbonneau says:

            “Famine was not just a political issue. The lack of global distribution infrastructure along with a lack of global media visibility enabled famine. Politics merely weaponized this.”

            Fair point, they used famine as a weapon because they could. It would be harder to do today.

            • Rayne says:

              And I didn’t add that I couldn’t speak/write much Spanish to communicate with the bank and had to rely on freight forwarders to handle communications in Addis Ababa and Port of Djibouti, couldn’t exactly use Google Translate. People take for granted just how much communications infrastructure alone has been created and normalized in the last 50 years, in addition to distribution systems.

          • Leoghann says:

            That’s what my friend with Cargill used as well, and he used to talk really bad about it! He was also fluent in five languages besides English, and knew commodities terms in several others (sort of like I spoke landscape Spanish for years before I finally learned to be conversant). There were a few times when we were hanging at his place that his phone would ring, and he would break into German, French, Dutch, whatever.

          • Fran of the North says:

            Nerd Alert!!!!

            This teletype is almost exactly what we had in HS when I was in computer club. This was an upgrade from coding each statement on a punch card and then sending the deck to the state U.

            The plate on the right was replaced by an acoustic coupling that held a standard 60-70’s telephone handset. We wrote our code by typing line by line, and just like Rayne, the tape captured our programs. Then we dialed the ‘time-share’ at the U, and played our tape. The mainframe executed our code, and the results printed on the paper.

            High speed for sure!

            • P J Evans says:

              I suspect that’s what the group of students at my HS used, when they were learning programming in the mid-60s. (I wasn’t among them, but one of my friends was, so I got a look.)

  6. Silly but True says:

    Construction costs are going to take a beating, and this is something that since March 2020 has already been exploding.

    Hot-rolled iron gets used in wide variety of industries, particularly heavy construction (buildings and bridges, locks and dams, sporting and entertainment arenas, etc.), it’s used in making railroad rail, and sheet metal. It’s used in agriculture equipment and parts.

    Ten years ago, world-wide steel prices were up because two mega-projects were both risking consuming nearly all the available capacity at the time: the Oakland-Bay Bridge and WTC Freedom Tower.

    Since then, the domestic U.S. steel industry has only gotten “worse” with worse being less competitive. As of 2020 domestic U.S. steel production is now effectively a duopoly between Cleveland-Cliffs and US Steel Corp. Cleveland-Cliffs hoovered up AK Steel for $1b plus acquired nearly all of ArcelorMittal US operations for $1.4b. Any hit to overall availability is going to skyrocket steel prices from it’s already current high.

    Also, for whatever reason it seems at least the past two years there’s been shortage of canned pumpkin. So probably no pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving this year. I’m only partially in jest. There are people whose economies relay on many of these products, and livelihoods will be at risk, but it’s going to affect everyone throughout the world in some way.

      • ducktree says:

        Ever tried mincemeat? It comes prepared both in glass jars (ready to dump into a pie shell) and desiccated in cardboard packaging to be rejuvenated.

        • Silly but True says:

          Good idea. I had pleasure of having one before through a friend.

          I probably won’t chance trying to make one as it looked like a lot of preparation.

          But then I also like fruit cake. I’m the one in my family when everyone jokes about getting one to just pass it on.

            • P J Evans says:

              My granny made green-tomato pie for us, once. (She’d been using it as a threat for a long time.) It was quite good. The tomatoes need to be at the “white” stage, full size but not yet starting to turn color. (They do look whitish at that point.)

              • Silly but True says:

                It’s tough for me to do anything with green tomatoes but slice them up, season them, flour them and fry them up.

                I’ve never heard of green tomato pie or green tomato mock mincemeat.

                But now I’m certainly intrigued.

          • Leoghann says:

            I spend a few hundred dollars on cakes from Collin Street Bakery prior to Christmas season, for gifts to several friends and family members (and one for myself). Several of them tell me they wait for it to come every year. But I’ve heard stories about home made fruitcakes.

    • Rayne says:

      Commercially produced pumpkin pie is really squash pie. US gets most of its imported squash from Mexico, like more than 93 percent.

      But that’s neither here nor there when it comes to a can of pumpkin; if there was a shortage it had nothing to do with the crop production which was only off about 10% last year over the previous two years according to the Vegetables 2021 Summary (February 2022) by the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service.

      We’re not going to worry about Russian pumpkins for an American holiday — there will be plenty from the Americas.

    • Fran of the North says:

      Another use of that steel will be armor plating for the vehicles that will need to be built to replace combat losses. Me thinks Russia will have a Hobson’s choice btw selling production and using it internally to rebuild their armored forces.

  7. James says:

    Our farmers here in Nebraska are trying to noodle out whether sanctions are a good thing or a bad thing, as noted in an Omaha World-Herald article on February 26.

    Will sanctions affect U.S. ag exports to Russia?
    (Paywalled), the lede of the article:

    Although the Russian invasion of Ukraine threatens to upend the world’s economic order, it’s difficult to project how the conflict and the subsequent sanctions will affect Nebraska’s agricultural exports.

    Many other factors have already diminished trade — including ag commodities and products — between the U.S. and Russia as well as between the U.S. and Ukraine.

    After peaking in 2012 at $178 million, for example, Nebraska’s exports to Russia have steadily drifted downward, according to U.S. Census Bureau data cited by Lia Nogueira, an associate professor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Food products accounted for about $126 million of that, primarily meat and live animals. Industrial materials — including those for machinery, nuclear reactors and other items — added another $46.6 million.

    The subsequent drop came shortly after Vladimir Putin formally returned to power as Russia’s president in 2012. (more at the link)

    • Mickquinas says:

      Some of the farmers to your east (North Central Illinois) are more concerned about fertilizer costs and more importantly, availability. The folks I listen to are more concerned about the cost of inputs (seed, fertilizer, parts, and the rise in cash rent for acreage tied to bushel prices) than they are about exports.

  8. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Seizures – physical or virtual holding of an asset, temporarily preventing its use – seem to be the order of the day. A big issue will be whether those turn into permanent forfeitures.

    The most likely way seizures become forfeitures is by using the assets to pay reparations to Ukraine. It will have suffered many billions of dollars in property damage – plus damages to people – owing to Putin’s invasion. Putin himself would commit seppuku before willingly accepting that, because it would signify Russian liability for wrongful destruction of Ukraine. It’s a Gordian knot problem that won’t be resolved during Putin’s lifetime.

    Determining whether and which assets are subject to forfeiture will take decades. (It will haunt the world’s overburdened foreign offices and be a boon to a subset of the legal profession.) But the issue of reparations, if and how they are paid, will hang like a sword over other issues and negotiations.

    • bmaz says:

      Yeah, the last paragraph is spot on. It is easy to cheer taking these cluck’s stuff, but it is kind of fraught with legal peril.

      • Rugger9 says:

        I don’t think that there is a unified standard within for example the ICC and UNCLOS that could apply. I would observe that the USA is not a signatory to nor accepts the restrictions of either system. That means interpretations in self-interest by the parties involved.

        As we have also seen in recent weeks, Putin’s Russia has cracked down on protests and criticism, and where such changes to the laws can be made quickly there is no reason to believe fair play would result. On our side, look at the red state laws on voting rights, abortion and LGBTQ topics among others, frequently rushed through and full of unintended consequences. In such environments the fair determination of reparations is damn near impossible. If the aggrieved party doesn’t like the outcome they just change the law.

      • Peterr says:

        Also diplomatic peril. See the Treaty of Versailles, which certainly helped sow the seeds for the rise of the Nazis. The politics of grievance can be a powerful thing.

    • Marinela says:

      US going to war in Iraq was dicey as well. US credibility and Ukraine in lost lives are paying the price now.
      So don’t start wars. They never address the original issues and create exponentially more issues.

      • Marinela says:

        Ukraine is defending, didn’t start the war.
        I was saying US started war in Iraq, Russia started war in Ukraine.

        Ukraine is paying a price now as attached by Russia.
        US going to war in Iraq makes it so difficult now for US to consistently point to the monstrosity of Russia’s war as Russia is so good at what aboutism regarding the Iraq war.

        • Rayne says:

          The issue about Ukraine is very simple: a sovereign democratic nation has been militarily invaded yet again without its consent. The US has an obligation as do its democratic allies to aid Ukraine. It also has an additional moral obligation since Ukraine is in need of humanitarian aid.

          I’m not going to let any vagueness about this extend Russia’s weaponization of past US mistakes. Putin in particular has made a massive miscalculation that Ukraine would consent to occupation; he made a further miscalculation that democratic nations including the US would simply look the other way and not provide aid as requested.

          • Marinela says:

            Yes to all.

            What I was trying to convey, in an Universe when US doesn’t invade Iraq, would Russia still invade Ukraine? Probably. The difference is the US credibility and the ability to keep all countries together to help Ukraine now, the allies good will reservoir starting low after US going into Iraq.

            African countries, China, Saudis for instance are contemplating aligning with Russia for different reasons and this is concerning.

            War crimes, reparations, international tribunals aren’t these steps harder to enforce or legally prosecute since US got bugged down in Iraq?

            Not equating Russia’s war with the US invasion of Iraq.

          • earlofhuntingdon says:

            But, but, over at the Church of Greenwald, aka naked capitalism, Putin is the victim. He is defending himself against the threat from a puppet state in thrall to NATO and run by the CIA since 2014. And he is legitimately trying to root out Ukrainian Nazis. (No word on when Mexico and Canada will invade in order to eliminate the PBs and OKs.)

            That characterization comes from comments in a guest post by the execrable Moscow-based “journalist,” John Delmer. It’s nominal subject was to debunk the Zelenskyy meeting with the Polish, Czech and Slovak prime ministers, reportedly in Kyiv.

            Delmer concludes – from dissecting photo “evidence” – that the story is a lie, because the meeting must have taken place in Poland. The site’s host argues that vitiates any comparison between Churchill and Zelenskyy’s wartime leadership, and points to a diatribe about the pattern of paving blocks at a Polish train station, which makes Delmer’s claims dispositive.

            The credulousness, cheerleading, and America bashing could have come from a Free Glenn rally outside the Intercept’s offices.

            • earlofhuntingdon says:

              A.S.S. sure seems to be in it for the money and fame. His views gravitate to wherever the most of it is, clickbait right wing mania.

    • Badger Robert says:

      Seizures and travel restrictions will do most of the work. Attachments turning into seizures may work as to liquid assets and export income. Its very difficult to see how a sanctioned Russian’s real estate in the US could be forfeited without some criminal conviction and a financial penalty.
      The biggest risk to Russia is that some type of attachment works with respect to export payments, which leads to some % going to Ukraine.

    • vietvet68 says:

      I understand little about international investment, but I am intensely curious about the vulnerability to seizure of the Russian investment in aluminum processing in Moscow Mitch’s backyard, Kentucky. I’m sure he will want to do the patriotic thing.

      • rip says:

        Good observation. I had forgotten about Mitch’s involvement with another Russian oligarch’s business.

        Must be sort of fun at the dinner table with his wife Elaine Chao who probably has a slightly different perspective on the Russo-Sino relationship, altho Mme Chao’s family is from Taiwan – not necessarily a friend of either USSR or PRC.

  9. Dsl says:

    It will also be very interesting to see how these sanctions affect political fundraising during this year’s election cycle in the US. Poor WinRed. Looks like those third party candidates will actually have to work for their dollars now. The NRA must be very nervous as well – their washing machines are probably starting to get musty. There’s also going to be a sharp drop in announcements about aluminum factories in Kentucky for the foreseeable future ;)

    Up here in Canada, our wingnuts must be getting nervous too. That convoy BS in the US really lost steam when the war started. It’s almost like all those homegrown, grassroots supporters of right wing causes have just disappeared. Is it possible that their voter base isn’t as big as they thought? Unfathomable. /s

    • Marinela says:


      Putin got his priorities backwards and can only do one thing at the time? /s
      Instead of nurturing “legitimate political discourse” outside of Russia, and supporting it with money and hybrid cyber tactics, he is actually bugged down in another hybrid war he started in Ukraine!. /s

      I guess protecting his political fortune and his corrupted financial gains takes priority over fomenting political discourse he is so proud of causing.

  10. Peterr says:

    One other element to this game of jenga is how much an individual country depends solely (or significantly) on Russia for one of these commodities. For instance, the US imports of refined petroleum are top of the list, but the amount is a fraction of the whole US need for refined petroleum. I’m going to stick my neck out here, but I feel confident in saying the the Russian exports to the Netherlands and Singapore are a huge amount of their refined petroleum consumption. Shutting off the spigot to these three countries would be an problem for the US but a disaster for the Netherlands and Singapore.

    The percentage of a given country’s need for a specific product that comes from Russia is at least as important (if not more important) than the percentage of the total Russian export market that country receives.

    • Rayne says:

      Netherlands and Singapore are among the countries for which exports are a considerable part of GDP — 78% and 176% respectively, in 2020. Netherlands may be able to obtain oil and gas through the North Sea and Singapore has access through Thailand and Malaysia. It’s the ability of those sources to respond to additional demand which will be challenged; IIRC, Malaysia spiked a pipeline from China not too long ago. And then there’s the instability in Myanmar which also relies on the same supplies.

        • Rayne says:

          The category “Oils” in the top ten Russian exports list I couldn’t address because there wasn’t adequate information about the kinds of oils — not even whether vegetable or mineral. Safflower and sunflower seed exports suggest the the link to sunflower oil shortage, but sunflower seed exports don’t necessarily equal seed oil.

          Dutch may find they’re using canola or other lightly-flavored high cooking temperature seed oils soon without much discomfort because there are many suppliers.

          • earlofhuntingdon says:

            Many suppliers,..and many new customers looking to replace supplies that formerly came from Russia.

    • Leoghann says:

      The biggest problem with the restricted imports of Russian oil in Europe is convenience. They’ve had those supply agreements going for a long time, the older Nord Stream pipeline has been reliable, and thus no one has worked out any backup suppliers.

      There is still North Sea oil, and there’s plenty of oil to import from the US, Mexico, the Arab states, and Canada. Venezuela’s petroleum industry has been suffering from Maduro’s gross incompetence and corruption just as all the country’s industries have.

      Of course, working out all those new supply contracts won’t happen quickly, as industrial contracts never do. But once they’re in place, Russian oil exports will be choked for years to come. Maybe Putin can figure out how to feed soldiers with petroleum byproducts.

  11. gmoke says:

    UN FAO says that global food prices rose over 20% from 2020 to 2021 and that global food surpluses are at very low levels now. Without a 2022 Russian and Ukrainian grain harvest, many people around the world are going to get VERY hungry. Without the fertilizers and agricultural minerals Russia supplies the world, farmers are going to have lower yields.

    While people in general are worrying about the war, as well they should, I am worried about the global food supply.

    • Rugger9 says:

      I keep thinking about something Al Franken described in one of his books, the fountain of pig sh%t at one of the CAFO ponds that developed a leak in its lining. It would seem that could be put to better use but as yet it’s not profitable for the owners.

      • Silly but True says:

        I have mixed feelings that the world seems to be approaching Mad Max.

        Pig sh%t powered cities might be friendlier for the environment. And my tricked out car might be cooler than what I’m driving right now. But the roving marauders and mutant warlords may be a downer.

        • gmoke says:

          The Mad Max version of the future is a pipe dream. The world is not gonna fall into that level of disrepair and still have enough gasoline and oil to perform entertaining demolition derbies.

          It’s always amusing to me to see apocalyptic futures, zombie and otherwise, where people are still driving cars and trucks. It’s always frustrating that none of the imagined apocalyptic futures I’ve seen, in print or on TV or movies, knows the first damn thing about what even a schoolchild can do with renewables. I’ve tried to interest producers like JJ Abrams and Laurie David in including real renewable solutions in their future visions but to no avail that I can see.

  12. Raven Eye says:

    Exports are one thing to compare, but including production and import figures to the discussion adds a little more texture.

    2019 World wheat production figures were (million metric tons)

    China — 133.6
    India — 103.6
    Russia — 74.5
    USA — 52.3
    France — 40.6
    Canada — 32.3
    Ukraine — 28.4
    Pakistan — 24.4

    Just in the above numbers, it is interesting to note that for all of its production, China still imports a lot of wheat, India’s exports are very small, and France produces more wheat than Canada.

    But on that last point, you see many listings that treat the EU as a single wheat producer; 152 million metric tons for the 2019/20 season. This may be one of the reasons that Putin and the oligarchs are so concerned about the “threat” of Ukraine’s entry into the EU.

    Some European countries import wheat, and if it is a type produced in both Ukraine and Russia, Ukraine in the EU would have a competitive advantage. That would spread to anything produced or sourced in both Ukraine and Russia.

    Should Russia’s attempt to seize control of Ukraine fail, Putin is going to be facing a change in European attitudes towards Ukraine. Ukraine’s known history of corruption and assumed fealty towards Russia has been a risk factor for potential investors. But Europe now has skin in the Ukraine game, and perceptions of Ukrainian national will have dramatically shifted.

    Commentators and pundits have been dropping all kinds of assumptions and hints regarding what concessions Ukraine would have to make in order for Putin to go home (unsurprisingly NATO membership finally seems no longer something Ukraine is asking for). We can’t tell how much Putin is listening to anyone, but if the oligarchs manage to get his ear, you can bet that they’re pushing for Russia to get extremely favorable trade agreements with Ukraine.

    • Rayne says:

      There are a lot of other factors, not just winter vs spring, or hard vs soft wheat, each of which have different uses based on gluten content. Import regulations may favor certain countries and their politics as well as contaminants (there’s a correlation between them in US, EU, India, other countries). Let’s not forget handling, containerization, and shipping lines as well which factor into the end cost and may be constrained again by politics.

      In the simplest analysis we need to look at the potential for hunger and famine, and which countries can respond quickly based on excess they don’t consume.

      As for the oligarchs: fuck them. The French showed us how to use the tumbrils.

      • Molly Pitcher says:

        Rayne the depth and breadth of your knowledge and research is consistently spectacular. Thanks for all the time and effort you put into this.

  13. Mike Stone says:

    I agree that Russia’s economy is bad and going to get worse. Putin could have used the resources of the country to build a modern economy, but it is a failed state.

    Frankly, I worry that more economic problems may not end this war or Putin’s regime quickly enough.

    I think new and bolder strategies should be examined. Some can be learned from history.

    During the Korean war the US and UN forces knew that Russian MIGs and pilots were in Korea fighting UN forces. Of course, Russia denied this.

    Also, the US was very interested in getting its hands on the Russian MIGs which were very advanced fighters at the time.

    The US made public that it would pay $100K (eq to $1M today) to any Russian pilots who defected and brought their MIGs with them.

    The US and Europe could do something similar here. We are not so interested in their equipment, but if we can get their pilots and solders to switch sides for a bounty and citizenship, given the pay and quality of life of the Russian solders, I would bet we would get a lot of takers. We could pay them in proportion to the value of the equipment they bring with them that will be taken out of the conflict.

    An added bonus is that this would hyper stimulate the paranoia part of Putin’s brain.

  14. Silly but True says:

    Another thing to be on watch for is China using the turmoil to further push US dollar as world’s reserve currency off a cliff. In just about the past 20 years the US dollar has been sinking to new low status quo, dropping from high of 72% in 2001 to its current 60% (and declining).

    It’s will not take that much before majority of world moves off dollar as reserve. Although good for US that even then it’s still a very, very long way before anyone will come close to challenging its plurality. Even if US drops to 50%, that will still be 2x more than 2nd place Euro. What happens? US generally will have less financial flexibility while those taking its place will have more. If US decline _could_ instead be filled by multiple regionally-significant sovereign currencies, that’d probably be ideal for rest of world. But what will happen is US power will be exchanged for Euro or Chinese power, neither of which will likely be any improvement to a given non-US, non-Euro, or non-China country.

  15. mospeck says:

    So we’re playing Jenga, and I’ll play. Hey, we’re going to Mars :) and so yea it’s true that we’re newbies on becoming a space-faring civilization, but our physics and sci tech right now are just a runaway truck. So my claim is it’s the best of times and we have everything before us! Rayne, so yea, maybe the world food supplies might right now be in a bit of a bottleneck, but within fifty or so years (this after the cyanobacteria have done all the hard work and got us a foothold :) we’ll be installing the atmosphere processors and all about terraforming another world, and then within a hundred will be growing wheat on Blue Mars! Yea, it’s the winter wheat, for sure.
    ..or maybe I’m just being an over optimistic idiot, and it is the worst of times where we got nothing before us but trouble with a capital T with a madman who has 4500 nukes and knocks us back to the 19th century

  16. SilverWolf says:

    Earth’s actors change Earth’s scenes, what a web we weave.
    Sorry to be off topic somewhat.

  17. Vern says:

    Tubes. As in vacuum tubes. Think higher end and highly prized and maintained vintage guitar amps.

    Tubes are produced in Russia, Slovakia, and China ONLY. The factory in China burnt down and won’t be back up before next year sometime (if ever).

    You won’t ever see them produced here because you basically create a superfund site in their manufacture.

    Also too: Birch plywood (covered in tolex) = amp speaker cabinet.

    • vvv says:

      The music forums are reporting that there is some hoarding of vacuum tubes going on, and some of the better known retailers have cut back or eliminated sales:

      • Rayne says:

        Looks like there’s been a lot of concern about vacuum tube production since before last autumn.

        Compounding problem, assuming the Shuguang plant which was closed has now been reopened: I think it’s in Guangdong province which is experiencing a wave of COVID and may be in lockdown.

        Can’t help wonder if vacuum tubes could be 3D printed if printers were sophisticated enough to apply multiple metals and glass. 3D printing would solve the problem of scaling up production and reduce challenges related to toxic waste.

                  • vvv says:

                    Cool trivia point, Jerry Harrison, later of T-heads, played on Jonathon’s album (*The Modern Lovers*) with “Roadrunner” onnit.

                    I know a bunch of useless band trivia, see.

                    Also, my fave pre-amp tube is the 12AU7, and I prefer EL34’s because 6L6’s and their variants are sorta too loud for my use nowadays.

          • Fran of the North says:

            Another use of that steel will be armor plating for the vehicles that will need to be built to replace combat losses. Me thinks Russia will have a Hobson’s choice btw selling production and using it internally to rebuild their armored forces.

        • Vern says:

          Making tubes is a finicky and labor intensive process.

          Story I heard from a guy who makes custom guitar pickups:

          Fender had been looking into buying their tubes from the Chinese (about half the cost of the Russian versions). Major quality issues though. Reject rate is >50% (Russian is ~25%).

          Lots of toxic trash results. When it comes time to dispose of the rejects, a team of people in full PPE (Tyvek suits, respirators, etc.) packages the reject tubes and hauls them away … somewhere.

          • bmaz says:

            Thankfully, have no need for replacement tubes. But, you never know, may soon. They were not cheap to start with…

          • Rayne says:

            Yes, it’s labor intensive *now* because the demand is too small to merit retaining the automated manufacturing they used way back in the hey day of vacuum tube radios and television.

            They’ve mastered 2D printing of electronics. They’ve developed 3D printing of glass. I don’t think it would take much to print 3D electronics if they can print things as complicated as jet engines. All that’s really needed is somebody with the vision and capital to make 3D printing of vacuum tubes happen — perhaps somewhere it’s in the works since DARPA was looking at it back in 2015.

    • P J Evans says:

      We had a microfiche reader/printer at work, way back, that used light bulbs made in Hungary. Supply lines are complicated.

  18. Christopher Blanchard says:

    Excellent post Rayne. Thank you.

    Can I add one thought please, which is about the financial stability of the countries adversely affected by sanctions. The worst and very common case is that governments run out of money trying to cope with disasters, borrow to try to cope and then default. The IMF was established to try to fix that problem – it was a marvelous institution as designed, back in 1948, but wrecked by Nixon, Pompidou and Heath in the 1970s, so it can’t do what it was supposed to do. There is, however, an alternative: the example is Taiwan in the 1950. The way it worked is that Taiwan funded massive public expenditure by issuing bonds with a ludicrously high return (not looking up exact rates). That would have meant certain default and brutal, possibly killing, hardship, but, and a very big but, their debt was backed by the US government, so they didn’t go bankrupt. The modern position is in similar politics. In other words, which governments will get overt or covert financial backing from the world’s rich countries. I imagine Ukraine will, but the question of who will starve, as opposed to who will get the funding to adapt to supply chain disruptions, is viciously political, however much it is wrapped up in ‘economics’.

    • Rayne says:

      Hence my aside about Cuba. LOL It looks like EU countries are thinking out of the box about financing Ukraine’s recovery; they’re talking about using oligarchs’ seized assets to establish a fund. It’s a start, and it also suggests Ukraine is already on its way to becoming a full EU member.

  19. observiter says:

    Yes, excellent post!

    Re the famine discussion. Drought and lack of healthy soil (over farming of soils) with overpopulation = Bangladesh, etc. Add to this — with overpopulation, you also get increased risk of major spreadable disease and death. Disease, water, food and war are looked at by some (human ecologists, for example) as mechanisms that moderate population size. It’s an unpleasant topic, but I still wanted to include it.

    Putin chose to start his invasion now, regardless of the weather and boggy roads. But Ukraine is a major world producer of wheat. Isn’t this the time of year for seeds to be planted in the fields? I would imagine the Ukraine wheat crop won’t be happening this year. I think the ramifications of this would be huge, although maybe Russia’s wheat export levels have been getting impacted by the presence of large harvests by Ukraine and will be gaining alot by it. I wonder.

  20. Eureka says:

    It was the frozen fish that caught my eye, a reminder of a documentary several years ago on their major production role. That will add to the proteins problem, and I imagine will impact fish-consumption surges such as during the Lenten season.

    • Rayne says:

      There’s probably enough frozen fish in the retail supply chain to get through the Lenten season — we only have five more weeks through Orthodox Easter. But Christmas eve observation of the Festa dei Sette Pesci (Feast of the Seven Fishes) may be pared to Antipasto di tre pesci e mezzo.

      • Eureka says:

        Yep; in mentioning Lent of possible surge examples, I was thinking next year — really next winter, as I had Christmas Eve and seasonal eating habits in mind as well.

        I don’t think this is going to be sorted out that quickly (wrt RU imports being allowed, much less shifting markets back to any semblance of status quo ante), but who knows how the markets might re-jigger to replace some or all (or little-to-none — or even into the negative beyond that balance) of ~ 1/5 of our frozen fish. There isn’t a direct (tit-for-tat) market swap available since they don’t import our fish AFAIK. [Taking processing (jobs) into account, the fish puzzle alone seems pretty complicated.]

        And this was before Mariupol council was reporting today the further war crimes of forced deportations of their residents to parts unknown in Russia.

        What another shitty day to bear distant, partial witness.

  21. Nigel Senna says:

    I love you guys, I came to learn about getting TFG put in the pokey, learn about Festa dei Sette Pescid. I gotta go, FP3 is starting.

  22. Leoghann says:

    This isn’t about petroleum, grain, or other commodities. But Daily Beast ran a little snarky piece this past week about the company that holds the patent and is the only producer of botox. Putin is very fond of his botox injections, and they have completely left the Russian market.

  23. Alan Charbonneau says:

    In the Russians do stupid things over and over again department, a YouTube channel by Artur Rehi, an Estonian, has a video today called “Highest ranking K.I.A. in the war – Lt. Gen. Andrey Mordvichev”
    What’s interesting is that the Ukrainian army was able to take out helicopters at Kherson airport with an artillery strike. The Ukrainians noticed the Russians move their units to the very same location as the previous units as soon as the previous unit had been bombarded. So twice Ukrainians hit helicopters parked at the same coordinates. After the second successful attack, the Russians moved Lt. Gen. Andrey Mordvichev and his staff to those coordinates and they were taken out by an air strike. 12 hours after the general was killed, Russians moved more units to the same coordinates, resulting in a 4th drubbing in the same location.

    Rehi also points out that numerous officers were killed in a recent battle at Izium where a entire tank battalion was made “unfit for battle”, i.e. a 30% or greater loss of fighting ability. He said information reviewed from the papers of the dead soldiers, showed that the entire officer corps in this battle were cadets from the Russian military academy who had not yet graduated.

    • Rayne says:

      Oh my god. I think I’m going to be sick. How the hell did they end up with cadets serving as officers? Curse Putin for killing his country’s future.

        • Rayne says:

          Where are the regular military? Why would Putin go this hard, this deep, and not have regular military at the ready? They’ve blown through the first echelon and the second echelon is hardly more than students?

          There’s something very wrong here. There’s a massive intelligence problem. I literally just heard a so-called expert saying this evening that Russia has plenty more troops but counterterror police, conscripts, and now cadets have been deployed while mercenaries from Syria and Africa are being recruited. Just doesn’t make sense at all.

          • Alan Charbonneau says:

            There is something very wrong, alright. Here is some more info—they are planning to use minors:
            https://www.criticalthreats (dot) org/analysis/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-march-20

            “The Ukrainian Military Intelligence Directorate (GUR) additionally reported on March 20 that Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu signed an order to prepare to admit Unarmiya (Russian Youth Army, a Kremlin-run military youth organization) personnel aged 17-18 to fight in Ukraine on March 15.[2] “

            Footnote #2 is

            That link has a headline “Putin and Shoihu Are Preparing to Use Minors in the War against Ukraine – Document”
            March 20, 2022
            The first sentence reads: “Due to the lack of manpower to replenish the ranks of the occupation army, the Kremlin leadership is considering a possibility of involving russia’s minors in the hostilities in Ukraine.”

            Vile doesn’t begin to describe this.

            • Alan Charbonneau says:

              More Russian woes…

              Eliot Cohen in the Atlantic:
              Why Can’t We Admit That Ukraine Is Winning?

              He notes that “the 1-to-1 ratio of vehicles destroyed to those captured or abandoned bespeaks an army that is unwilling to fight” his source for equipment losses is

              Also, per WAPO: “Russians are being killed or injured at the rate of up to 1,000 a day, according to Western intelligence estimates, and even more according to Ukrainian ones.”

              • Alan Charbonneau says:

                Even more news
                “Reports claim that the Russian 331st Guards Airborne Regiment was destroyed after coming under fire from Ukrainian forces. The regiment is part of the 98th Guard Airborne Division and had around 2000 soldiers along with over 200 armoured fighting vehicles.” They capture over 100 POWs and killed the rest.


                “Ukraine is reportedly on the edge of the ‘first major victory of the war’ as accounts emerge of Russian troops being surrounded in Bucha, Irpin and Hostomel area near Kyiv, cut off from supplies. If this effort is successful, it will represent the biggest defeat of the Russian army to date and President Vladimir Putin will have to start worrying about the number of Russian prisoners of war being captured. Anders Östlund, a contributor at The Center for European Policy Analysis, notes: ‘This is huge. If confirmed, and Ukraine manage to keep the siege, this could become the first major victory of the war. An entire Russian army could be erased. I hold my breath waiting for confirmation.’”

                From, a tabloid by the looks of it, but here are interesting headlines:

                “CHINESE state media has shared reports of a Russian attack on a Ukrainian care home in a sign that Beijing is turning against Vladimir Putin.”


                “ Vladimir Putin AGREES to meet President Zelensky to conduct peace talks in person”

          • P J Evans says:

            Why are they shipping equipment from eastern Siberia?
            It sounds like they’ve been using the military to keep the populace quiet in outlying provinces, and for parades in Moscow, and not for much else (including maintenance). And if the enlisted/conscripted only served a year or two before getting out, while the officers get promoted, that makes it worse.
            So much we don’t know about their internal stuff. (Maybe the IC and our military have a clue.)

            • madwand says:

              Speaking of maintenance Ukrainians are reusing abandoned tanks and vehicles and rehabbing tanks and vehicles that have been damaged. CNN ran a story about it today. There was even the suggestion that some ordinance has been dispatched back “the other way”.

              Shades of we gave the Russians green tracers in 44, they gave them back to us in 68.

  24. xy xy says:

    From BNN: Business groups warn on CP work stoppage Noah Zivitz
    As if the economy needed another supply-chain headache. Canadian Pacific Railway is into the second day of a work stoppage in [Canada]….the economic ripple effect[:] Fertilizer Canada, representing an industry that was already in the spotlight as Russia’s attack on Ukraine roils global supply, said in a release yesterday that it wants the federal government to “urgently act.” From the looks of things, though, the feds are giving the company and union time to hash out a deal, while indicating its patience isn’t endless.

    • xy xy says:

      From BNN:
      Work stoppage ends at CP Rail Noah Zivitz
      …and business groups across the country that had warned about potentially devastating economic consequences can breathe a little easier.

  25. mospeck says:

    Looks like maybe GRU just gives vlad the Order of Lenin and then posts him to his Black sea Island, a lot like it went for Napoleon. And then it’s Groundhog Day and we’re all just on pins and needles over here for what happens next after the old boss. Friedman NYT spoke about putin’s plans A, B, C and D.
    But the kids are alright. So while flying away like a passenger pigeon pay particular attention to the mini scream at 421 and then wait for it the big tall one at 714 for when the Russian kids meet the new boss

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