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How Putin’s war in Ukraine is impacting the Middle East

As published by the Middle East Institute by Mick Mulroy
Non-Resident Senior Fellow and Co-Director of the Yemen Steering Initiative

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has and will continue to have an increasingly negative impact on the world, including the Middle East. And because Russia’s military has proven far less effective than most analysts expected, combined with the effectiveness of the Ukrainian military, there is no end to the fighting in sight. The impacts of the conflict will affect countries differently, but over time they will negatively affect the entire region.

Many countries in the Middle East are heavily reliant on imported food. Russia and Ukraine produce 30% of the world’s traded wheat and up to 12% of its calories. Some countries in the region have the resources to store a substantial amount of grain from Russia and Ukraine; others do not. For example, Egypt gets nearly 85% of its wheat imports from these two states, and several other countries are in the same situation. Russia says it aims to take the entire coast of Ukraine to create a land bridge stretching from Russia to Crimea to the Transnistria region of Moldova, thereby cutting off Ukraine from the Black Sea and leaving it landlocked. In that case, this problem will only get worse.

In addition to the increasing cost of food, oil prices have also gone up due to the international sanctions that have been put in place to punish Russia for its decision to invade a sovereign country. These sanctions are only likely to increase as Russia continues to deliberately attack civilians, including the possibility that several European countries still buying Russian energy will stop doing so. The rising cost of oil will increase transport costs and, therefore, the cost of everything purchased. This increase will affect everything imported or exported, further depressing struggling economies or countries dependent on imported goods.

The Russian invasion has also caused a massive refugee problem; this will be expensive for the international community to handle. This problem will reduce the money available to address some of the severe humanitarian issues that exist in places like Lebanon, Yemen, and Syria. Millions of people depend on this humanitarian aid to survive. Much of the funding for this aid comes from European countries, and it will become more challenging for governments to maintain their past level of support for these humanitarian efforts.

One man decided to invade Ukraine; the impact of that decision hurt millions of men, women, and children worldwide, and it will continue to do so if he is not stopped and the war brought to an end.

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