From the Editor's Desk - Why is Russia in the Ukraine something I should care about?

Beth Welbers
Geneseo Republic

So, we wake up Thursday morning to find out the tanks have crossed the border, and the Russians are once again on their way Kyiv ( I remember it as Kiev).

Aside from the national news coverage, the average reader might ask why it should concern them, safely on the other side of the globe. 

The Ukraine, from my years of Geography in school with the nuns, was referred to in those ancient tomes as "Russia's breadbasket". Which gives you an indication of how long ago that was, since the Ukraine has been independent of Russia since 1991.  

In Henry County, a largely agriculture driven economy, this is a concern and here is why, according to Brittania.com:

  • Ukraine has large stores of titanium, uranium, iron ore, sulfur, graphite, nickel, steel, gold and ammonia.*
  • Ukraine also exports liquid natural gas, petroleum, and coal*
  • Ukraine exports grains such as corn, barley and wheat, More than 60% of which goes to former Soviet Republics like Russia, Belarus and Kazhkstan.*
  • Mining machinery, transportation equipment and a wide range of agricultural equipment are manufactured in the Ukraine.  During the Cold war, factories assembled naval vessels, rockets and Ukraine emerged as an arms producer on its own.  Many of the weapons factories converted to other manufacturing after the Cold War. *
  • Agricultural products exported are sugar (from beets) and vegetable oils, both edible and for industry. *

All those natural resources, ores and metals now have another supply chain disruption to overcome, since the Russians probably don't want the Ukrainians to continue exporting products they can use. And ammonia is a necessary part of fertilizer, a commodity already in the middle of a supply chain upheaval. 

The price of energy is high already, but with the disruption of more fuel sources, there will be more competition for energy not in a war-ravaged portion of the globe.  

Grain prices in the rest of the world will go up because of the disruption in the Ukraine. It's going to cost everyone more for that loaf of bread, from the Eastern Bloc to China. What about those countries who have trouble getting bread?  Competing with countries who can pay for it when others can't?  Another victim of Russian aggression, and they never fired a shot. 

Looking back at Econ 101, when they taught us the "guns and butter" principals.  More Ukrainian factories will now be converted back to weapons, fewer making the products that help fuel commerce.  Price of equipment and parts goes up, as well as demand, since the Ukrainians are busy with mortars instead of machinery.  And, where's the titanium for those specialty parts?

I like my sweets, as do most Americans.  Our sugar beets will be more in demand if Ukrainian beets are unavailable. Econ 101 steps in again, and the price of the candy bar goes up again.  The same holds true with renewable oils, headed for renewable fuels. 

Other than those things that I can directly correlate with what Sister Mary Generose and Econ 101 have told me, I don't care to venture any predictions on the future.  I'll save that for the more educated and those who have been watching this a whole lot longer.  

Map of Russian-Ukrainian border with chess pieces and tanks arrayed on both sides.