By: Mikhail Kosarev
We took note of Dr Sibongile Vilakazi’s article ‘Russia-Ukraine war presents a perfect chance for Africa to lead’, published in The Star on 26 June. It cannot be treated otherwise than as yet another biased article ignoring facts and spreading a distorted view of the situation – totally in the wake of Western mainstream narratives.
First of all, Dr Vilakazi’s concerns about dire consequences of warfare for civilians, stirred by a meeting with a delegation from Ukraine, are well understandable, yet seem somewhat selective. Why not talk to people from Donbass, too?
We believe that she, as a person who (according to her words) also had lived through hardships of an armed conflict, would apprehend what residents of Donbass felt being subjected to economic blockade by the Kyiv regime, intimidated and abused for years by Ukrainian armed formations. They would tell her about the Alley of Angels – a memorial complex in Donetsk dedicated to children killed by indiscriminate artillery and air strikes on peaceful cities by the Kyiv regime. They would tell how it feels to spend half of life in bomb shelters.
They do know who initiated the war – not Russia. The war was unleashed by the Kyiv regime back in 2014. For Donbass people, what Russia does to protect them and stop this war is perfectly justified.
The author claims: “Russia is said to be exporting energy (oil, gas, coal), rolled steel, and minerals, as well as timber, fertilizers, machinery, equipment and armaments. This is impacting the global trade, production, and consumption, leading to high commodity prices beyond 2023 and posing a risk to food security worldwide.” We assume that the esteemed president of the Black Management Forum simply forgot to specify what exactly poses a risk to global food security? Is it, according to her, Russia merely being the world’s biggest exporter of a range of essential goods? Really?
The truth is that Russia has been and remains a reliable supplier of fossil fuels and other commodities to the world markets, and even as the world’s most sanctioned country, it continues to responsibly fulfil its international obligations.
By the way, our country is the world’s biggest supplier of agricultural products, too, and for that matter, it can help avert or at least significantly relieve the looming food crisis across the world while restrictions against Russia’s exports imposed by the collective West do put global food security in jeopardy. Haven’t you thought about it?
With or without meaning to, the author echoes key messages of global mainstream media portraying Russia as the one to solely blame for soaring prices of food, fertilizers and energy. “The war has pushed up prices of the commodities to unprecedented levels, causing exacerbated food shortages and stoking inflation in many countries,” she says.
Is Dr Vilakazi familiar with FAO reports stating that food prices began surging long before the special military operation in Ukraine? We wonder. Or, for instance, with the conclusions of a group of researchers from the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences revealing no interdependence between the situation around Ukraine and grain prices dynamics whatsoever? International experts openly admit that the root causes of food inflation are skews in global economy, blunders in macroeconomic, energy and food policies of major Western countries.
Why doesn’t Dr Vilakazi mention that during the Covid-19 pandemic, Western states printed trillions of dollars, euros, yens, etc., not backed by any goods produced or services provided? This is what led to global inflation and, therefore, price hikes in commodities markets well before the special military operation in Ukraine. This is what the entire developing world, in fact, had to pay for during and following the pandemic: long-standing irresponsible macroeconomic policy of ‘the Garden.’
Why not mention massive illegal unilateral sanctions against Russia, too? Like those banning Russian ships from entering Mediterranean ports and foreign ships from entering Russian ports or restrictions against Rosselkhozbank, cutting it off from the SWIFT. The negative effect of these restrictions on food security has been acknowledged by international experts, including from the World Bank, WHO, Unicef, and the UN Economic Commission for Europe.
Accusing Russia of instigating food crisis, Dr Vilakazi omits who the main beneficiaries of the rising food and fertilizer prices are – the largest Western agribusiness corporations. Specifically, the so-called ‘Big Four’: the American producers Archer Daniels Midland, Bunge, and Cargill, as well as the Dutch Louis Dreyfus, which account for 75 to 90% of global agricultural trade. In 2022, these companies made record profits, speculating on panic about possible shortages, as well as inflation.
Taking due account of the above-mentioned facts will lead to understanding whose interests all those tricks serve. The intentions behind the president of the Black Management Forum’s publication are also obvious – stigmatizing Russia in the eyes of Africans. However, are the views expressed in the article those of other members of the Black Management Forum?
Mikhail Kosarev, Press Attache of the Embassy of Russia in South Africa