As Russia continues its onslaught on Ukraine over its closeness with the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) allies, EDDY AKPOR, who examines the political economy of the invasion and what the crisis portends for global economy and Nigeria in particular, maintains that world powers must end the crisis in the interest of global peace, economy and above all, the need to avert humanitarian crises in the region.
Besides Russia’s claim that Ukraine’s decision to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) and the West’s incursion on the East necessitated its invasion of Ukraine, President of Russia, Vladimir Putin’s economic interest in Ukraine over its ‘haven of natural resources,’ remains a potential factor for launching a ferocious attack on the country, which it considers a formidable European ally and potential threat to its political and economic interests.
Pundits believe that Russia considers Ukraine’s membership of NATO a huge threat to its political and economic aspirations, as a strong contender of world power with the West, especially the United States of America (USA)
Facts revealed that NATO, which now has 30 member countries, was formed in 1949 with 12 founding members: Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, the United Kingdom (UK) and the United States of America.
The other member countries are: Greece and Turkey (1952), Germany (1955), Spain (1982), the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland (1999), Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia (2004), Albania and Croatia (2009), Montenegro (2017) and North Macedonia (2020).
Putin admitted much of the insinuations of NATO’ threat to its influence in his address to his country on Monday, February 21, 2022 shortly before the invasion of Ukraine commenced.
He said: “We are talking about what causes us particular concern and anxiety, about those fundamental threats that year after year, step by step, are rudely and unceremoniously created by irresponsible politicians in the West in relation to our country. I mean the expansion of the NATO bloc to the east, bringing its military infrastructure closer to Russian borders.
“It is well known that for 30 years, we have persistently and patiently tried to reach an agreement with the leading NATO countries on the principles of equal and indivisible security in Europe.
“In response to our proposals, we constantly faced either cynical deception and lies, or attempts to pressure and blackmail, while the North Atlantic Alliance, in the meantime, despite all our protests and concerns, is steadily expanding. The military machine is moving and, I repeat, is coming close to our borders.”
Also, some Russians, who commented on the situation, expressed the fear that as NATO expands to the east, the situation of the country is getting worse and more dangerous every year. Moreover, in recent days, the leadership of NATO has been openly talking about the need to accelerate and speed up the advancement of its infrastructure to the Russian borders.
“In other words, they are hardening their position. We can no longer just continue to observe what is happening. It would be absolutely irresponsible on our part. “Further expansion of the infrastructure of the North Atlantic Alliance, the military development of the territories of Ukraine that has begun is unacceptable for us. The point, of course, is not the NATO organisation itself- it is only an instrument of US foreign policy.
“The problem is that in the territories adjacent to us, I will note, in our own historical territories, an “anti-Russia” hostile to us is being created, which has been placed under complete external control, is intensively settled by the armed forces of NATO countries and is pumped up with the most modern weapons,” they said.
They also accused the United States and its allies of pursuing a policy of containment of Russia in their attempt to generate obvious geopolitical dividends.
“And for our country, this is ultimately a matter of life and death, a matter of our historical future, as a people. And this is not an exaggeration- it is true. This is a real threat not just to our interests, but to the very existence of our state and its sovereignty. This is the very red line that has been talked about many times.”
In ending his speech, Putin said: “I am confident that the soldiers and officers of the Russian Armed Forces devoted to their country will professionally and courageously fulfill their duty.
“I have no doubt that all levels of government, specialists responsible for the stability of our economy, financial system, social sphere, heads of our companies and all Russian business will act in a coordinated and efficient manner. I count on a consolidated, patriotic position of all parliamentary parties and public forces.
“Ultimately, as it has always been in history, the fate of Russia is in the reliable hands of our multinational people. And this means that the decisions made will be implemented, the goals set will be achieved, the security of our Motherland will be reliably guaranteed.
“I believe in your support, in that invincible strength that our love for the Fatherland gives us.”
Why Ukraine Matters:
By all estimates, the NATO threat is not all there is to the war. So, why is Russia after Ukraine and for those who ask: “Why does Ukraine matter?
Facts revealed that Ukraine matters much as the second largest country by area in Europe with a population of over 40 million, it ranks first in Europe in proven recoverable reserves of uranium ores and second in Europe and 10th globally in terms of titanium ore reserves.
It is also second in the world in terms of explored reserves of manganese ores (2.3 billion tons, or 12 per cent of the world’s reserves), second largest iron ore reserves in the world with over 30 billion tons.
Ukraine ranks second in Europe in mercury ore reserves, third in Europe (13th in the world) in shale gas reserves (22 trillion cubic meters), fourth in the world by the total value of natural resources and seventh in coal reserves globally with 33.9 billion tons.
Ukraine is a significant agricultural country. It is first in Europe in terms of arable land area, third in the world by the area of black soil (25 per cent of world’s volume), and first in the world in exports of sunflower and sunflower oil.
The country ranks second in the world in barley production and fourth in barley exports, third largest producer and fourth largest exporter of corn in the world.
It is the largest producer of potatoes in the world, fifth largest rye producer in the world, fifth place in the world in bee production (75,000 tons), eighth largest exporter of wheat globally, ninth in the production of chicken eggs and 16th largest cheese exporter in the world.
Ukraine can meet the food needs of 600 million people. As an industrialised nation, it ranks first in Europe in ammonia production, Europe’s second and fourth largest natural gas pipeline system, as well as third largest in Europe and eighth largest in the world in terms of installed capacity of nuclear power plants.
It ranks third in Europe and 11th in the world in rail network with 21,700kms, third after the U.S. and France in global production of locators and locating equipment, third largest iron exporter and largest exporter of turbines for nuclear power plants in the world.
The country also ranks fourth world largest manufacturer of rocket launchers, fourth in clay exports, fourth in titanium exports, eighth in export of ores and concentrates, ninth in export of defence industry products and 10th largest steel producer with of 32.4 million tons.
That is why Ukraine matters and that is why its independence is important to the rest of the world. That is why Russia is bent on annexing the country.
How The Crisis Will Affect Nigeria, Global Trade
Considering the abundant resources in Ukraine, a sustained invasion of the country could cause major disruptions in global economy, the magnitude of which could surpass the 2020-2022 disruptions of the COVID-19 lockdowns
Reports have already indicated that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has caused major upset in global financial and energy markets and distorted oil prices to soar, as maritime, aviation, tourism, sports and other sectors have been affected.
A report by the United Nations COMTRADE indicated that Nigeria’s imports from Ukraine amounted to $156 million in 2020, as the country major exports to Nigeria were mostly iron and steel valued at over $125 million. While sugar and its confectionaries, as well as pharmaceutical products from Ukraine reached $8.1 million and $7.6 million
Also, diplomatic relations between Russia and Nigeria had existed since 1960s. In September 2021, Russia revealed that its trade volume with Nigeria hit $ 600 million, as Russia is also an oil producing country.
Speaking on the crisis during a joint media briefing with the Nigeria-Russia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NRCCI) in Abuja, Deputy Head of Missions at the Russian Embassy, Valery Shaposknikov, said that the trade volume with Nigeria would increase with the buying of agricultural produce from Nigeria.
The crisis also posed potential threat to the country’s maritime sector as some international shipping lines like MSC, Maersk and CMA CGM have announced suspension of vessel calls to Ukraine until further notice.
Speaking on the impact of the Russia-Ukraine war on global maritime activities and the Nigerian shipping sector, a former Director-General of the Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Temisan Omatseye, pointed out that the crisis would adversely affect the country, as there was high volume of trade between Nigeria and Russia and between Ukraine and Nigeria.
The crisis has also reportedly created humanitarian disaster for Nigerians resident in Ukraine, as they are being dislodged and evacuated to neighbouring Poland, with all the attendant emotional and financial losses, among other concerns, especially for global trade and economy.
Nigerians in the Diaspora have already called on the Federal Government to expedite action in evacuating Nigerians from the crisis-prone areas to avoid loss of lives, giving that over a hundred lives have already been lost in the war.
The War Must End!
The Russia-Ukraine crisis has the potential of escalating further with Russia’s insistence on stopping NATO’s incursion to the East through Ukraine. NATO has also started responding to Russia’s invasion, by rolling out weapons for the first time in decades. But no matter the cost, the world powers must do everything possible to end the war in the interest of global peace, economy and above all, concern for the greater good and preservation of humanity.