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Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has caused a global food crisis, affecting millions in poor countries, and could expand to include a wave of global hunger, which could fuel political instability in a number of countries and the outbreak of uprisings encourage.

Russian and Ukrainian agricultural products are critical to global food security, with the former accounting for 13 percent and the latter 8.5 percent of world wheat exports.

Sanctions against Russia, as well as Moscow’s naval blockade of Ukrainian ports, have made the two countries’ products scarce on the world market, causing economic shockwaves around the world.

An analysis by Foreign Affairs magazine believes that the international community has military and diplomatic options to mitigate the impact of this looming crisis, but at the same time confirms that all these measures that can be taken have negative aspects, or “in short, there are no easy solutions to this crisis. ”

Road transport

One way to circumvent the Russian naval blockade and liberalize shipments of Ukrainian agricultural exports is to send them overland, with the help of neighboring countries such as Poland and Romania.

Ukraine has already switched to roads and railways to ship grain.

Grain trains stop at the Black Sea port of Constana, Romania, from Ukraine

These modes of transport offer one major advantage, which is that Russia does not have the capacity to intercept this traffic, although railways are vulnerable to attacks by missiles or aircraft, but even if they do, they are relatively easy to recover.

Unfortunately, Ukraine’s railway system does not have the full capacity to make up for the loss of maritime trade.

The transportation of all Ukrainian food exports, estimated at 30 million tons of grain, will require 100 shipments, and some calculations suggest that it will take 14 months to transport all grain by rail, compared to just four months by sea.

NATO military intervention

In another proposal, NATO could use its massive navy and large air force to escort Ukrainian grain ships, but a treaty known as the Montreux Convention limits the size of the force that can enter the Black Sea, and Russia can also intercept convoys that its own naval arsenal. Use mines and submarines.

The magazine explains that this strategy will provide the rapid flow of food that the world needs, but it will face several obstacles, the most important of which will be the ability of the major Russian naval forces to intervene in any Western ships involved in the conflict, to attack.

The Russian Black Sea Fleet currently owns 5 frigates, some amphibious ships, dozens of coastal defense vessels, and most importantly, six new diesel-electric submarines.

However, the magazine stresses that Russia’s grip on the Black Sea is not absolute, as it faced the loss of its main frigate “Moscow” in the Black Sea in April, in a blow that shook Moscow’s capabilities. .

But NATO will also be limited in its ability to relax Russia’s grip on the Black Sea due to the Montreux Convention. Regulation of the movement of maritime transport in the Turkish sea lanes connecting the Black Sea with the Mediterranean.

The agreement allows unrestricted access to merchant ships, and relatively free passage to the Black Sea states, but limits the size and number of warships that can cross the Strait and the length of deployments by non-Black Sea states.

Ultimately, the use of the strait will depend on Turkey, which in theory could change the rules to facilitate NATO’s naval strengthening, as Ankara is a member of NATO. But given Turkey’s relatively neutral position in the conflict, its unwillingness to jeopardize relations with Russia or the West, and its historical unwillingness to undermine the agreement, the constraints are likely to remain.

And if NATO sends convoys to Ukrainian ports, it may have to face a Russian attack.

Russia has already warned NATO against interfering in the conflict and that it could lead to a third world war.

Russia will not be obliged to intercept all convoys, according to “Foreign Affairs.” This may be enough to target, for example, a quarter of their number, which will affect the flow of grain to the world.

Russia is likely to use naval mines and submarines to attack grain convoys, as these weapons are not only effective but also mysterious and undeniable, easing the blame. Russia has already planted submarine mines in Ukraine’s ports.

Diplomatic options

There are also diplomatic options that can be pursued, especially with Russian President Vladimir Putin recently saying that Russia will “under certain circumstances” allow shipments from Ukraine.

This means that Russia wants to negotiate easing of sanctions in exchange for a partial lifting of the embargo.

Among the proposals will be a ship-by-ship, where one merchant ship from Ukraine will be allowed to participate in international trade, in exchange for one ship from Russia to do so.

But this proposal has received little response, as it will provide Russia with substantial financial resources, which means that a loophole will be found in the sanctions it imposes.

But with Western countries reluctant to risk a military confrontation, and the global food situation growing in jeopardy, the diplomatic approach may eventually gain international support.

Although all options are difficult, “the crisis cannot be simply ignored, because eventually, if hunger spreads on a large scale and leads to political instability, there will be increasing pressure on the West to act,” according to the magazine, which emphasizes that the United States must have And its allies plan, if they want to avoid a global disaster, which could get out of control.

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