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The China – Russia “Grain Entente” – what is at stake for Canada and its allies?

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From the Macdonald Laurier Institute

By Serghey Sukhankin

Moscow – with China’s help, approval, and likely, guidance – intends to challenge the West by changing the rules of trade in foods critical to global buyers.

Throughout its entire history the Soviet Union faced one existential peril that was never solved until its collapse in 1991 – the prospect of food shortage and mass starvation. Its cumbersome, utterly ineffective, and artificially subsidized agricultural sector was a living testament to the erroneous nature of a planned command-administrative economic model.

The situation with food and staples became so dire that starting from 1963 the Soviet Bloc (the USSR, Hungary, Bulgaria, and Czechoslovakia) started importing wheat from the United States, Canada, and Australia. This practice continued until the demise of the Soviet Empire. Everything changed after the collapse of the USSR and introduction of market-oriented reforms in Russia in the 1990s, along with the growth of commodity prices and Russia’s inclusion in the global economic architecture.

By 2000, Russia had already doubled the amount of grain it produced, making it one of the world’s top producers of this strategic commodity. By the late 2010s to early 2020s, Russia emerged as a one of the world’s largest exporters of grain and agricultural products.

However, Russia quickly realized that commodities – especially food along with hydrocarbons – could become a very useful tool of coercion in geopolitical confrontations with its rivals. This became abundantly clear after the outbreak of Russia’s full-scale war of aggression against Ukraine in 2022, when both Russia’s top-tier politicians (such as Deputy Chairman of the Security Council and former President Dmitry Medvedev) and chief propagandists (such as Margarita Simonyan, the editor-in-chief of the Russian state-controlled broadcaster RT) claimed “hunger” to be Russia’s natural ally, and threaten to cut supplies of food staples to “unfriendly countries.”

At the same time, Russia tried to spark a confrontation between Ukraine and Poland, Hungary, Slovakia over commodities and staples supplies. Ironically, rather than hurting the West, Russia’s actions had a worse impact on so-called “friendly countries” – especially those in the Global South, where access to inexpensive and available foodstuffs is a matter of life and death.

Russia’s strategy of intimidation was also ineffective due to its invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. Its so-called “special military operation” was supposed to be quick and decisive. Two years later, the war has imposed massive pressure on the Russian budget, requiring a constant cash flow that mainly comes from exporting raw materials and commodities.

Forced to evolve its strategy, Russia seems to be abandoning its plan of threatening to starve its adversaries. Instead, Moscow – with China’s help, approval, and likely, guidance – intends to challenge the West by changing the rules of trade in foods critical to global buyers. This strategy is being implemented via pursuit of two interrelated initiatives: formation of a “Grain Entente” between Beijing and Moscow, and the use of the BRICS trading bloc (consisting of nine nations led by founding countries Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) as a critical vehicle of change.

The first major step in this direction was made in October 2023, when the Russian Food Export Trade LLC company and China Chengtong International Limited concluded the “grain deal of the century” – the largest contract of this type ever signed between the two countries – according to which the Russian side pledges to deliver 70 million tons of various types of grain (produced in the Urals, Siberia, and the Far East) over the next twelve years for US$26.5 billion. As a result, already in the first quarter of 2024, Russia broke a historical record by supplying China with large volumes of oats (.7 times more than the previous year) and buckwheat (3.3 more than the previous year) receiving a staggering US$127 million. Yet, mounting grain sales is only the tip of the iceberg. The most critical development is China’s gradual overtaking of Russia’s logistical infrastructure, which could pave the way for China’s growing control over Eurasian logistics and trade routes.

In September 2023, officials from Russia and China met at the 8th Eastern Economic Summit in Vladivostok, where officials from Russia and China agreed to create a logistical hub – the “Grain Terminal Nizhneleninskoye–Tongjiang” in the Jewish Autonomous Oblast. The goal is to create the Russia’s first “land-based grain fleet.” Consisting of 22,000 containers transporting grain, it will be capable of moving up to 600,000 tons of grain with a maximum storage capacity of up to 8 million per year. The strategic significance of this move is clear. On one hand, it allows Russia to “safeguard” itself against sanctions pressure, which will likely make Russia’s behaviour in Europe (and elsewhere) even more aggressive and unpredictable. On the other hand, China – which will acquire de facto control over Russia’s grain – will see Beijing become the world’s largest grain hub, giving it enormous power to influence and set global food prices.

Russia’s next major move was to push for the creation of a BRICS grain exchange. Fully supported by Russian President Vladimir Putin, the proposed grain exchange would bring together some of the world’s biggest grain buyers and exporters, cumulatively accounting for more than 42 per cent of global grain production (at nearly 1.2 million ) and 40 per cent of global consumption. International observers and subject experts have already warned that Russia- and China- adverse exporters of grain and agricultural products such as the United States, Canada, and Australia “might face challenges in maintaining their market share and negotiating for favourable trade terms, while facing competition from cheaper Russian .” In effect, this may have “significant implications for global agricultural dynamics, ranging from geopolitical and geoeconomic realignments to increased competition in agricultural trade. For traditional exporters such as Australia and the US, it is a call to reassess their national policies and strategies to navigate the evolving landscape of international trade to maintain competitiveness.”

The emergence of the BRICS grain exchange – which will undoubtedly increase Russia’s (and most likely China’s) geoeconomic role – is only a part of a much bigger strategic challenge. If the BRICS grain exchange is successful, it will have a spillover effect on another critical product – the fertilizers required by both developed and developing nations. Russia already has a competitive advantage in fertilizer production, and post-2022, has tried to use its fertilizers as geopolitical tools pressuring international organizations (such as the United Nations) to lobby for the end of sanctions imposed on Russia after its full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

– If the Russia-China grain alliance proliferates and BRICS becomes a major player in the global flow of grains and other foodstuffs, it could prompt even greater changes to the established world market. Analysis of Russian-language sources and publications indicates that the next step would be the creation of an alternative to the “West-dominated” financial architecture, and ultimately, the transformation of global trade.

Russia’s plans (undoubtedly supported by China) pose a very serious challenge to Canada, its allies, and other liberal democracies.

They will likely suffer economic losses of grain exports due to the cheapness of Russian grain, and that country’s current occupation of a large part of Ukraine’s most fertile black-earth areas. If unchecked, Russia could assume control of more than 30 percent of global grain supplies.

Currently, the Indo-Pacific region is Canada’s largest export destination, with agriculture and food exports totaling $9.4 billion in 2022. If China gains unfettered access to Russian grain, it could seriously undercut Canada’s trade.

Making matters worse for Canada, its relationship with New Delhi is arguably at an all-time low, making it challenging to pivot sales of its agricultural products toward India or other countries without significant economic losses.

Looking at the bigger picture, there are a host of other potential threats to the global foods market, from the ongoing war in Ukraine to droughts and adverse climate conditions in the US, Argentina, and Australia. Amid growing uncertainty and upheaval, it’s possible that the global foods market will be carved up and dominated by Russia and other undemocratic, aggressive nations. Given Russia’s strategic goal of weakening the European Union, and ultimately causing its disintegration, it will continue to use artificially created food shortages in Africa and the Greater Middle East as a geopolitical weapon against the EU. The Kremlin hopes to replicate the crisis that occurred in 2015, when hundreds of thousands (now, potentially millions) of illegal migrants and asylum seekers poured into the EU – wreaking havoc, fostering intra-EU conflict, and assisting the rise of far-right (and left) populists.

The first step in Russia’s grand strategy is the de facto establishment of the Russo-Chinese “Grain Entente.” The next move will be the creation of a BRICS grain exchange and inclusion of other strategic commodities under the umbrella of BRICS operations. This is clearly a wakeup call for the West. We need to heed it, or else risk more dire, far-reaching consequences.


Dr. Sergey Sukhankin is a Senior Fellow at the Jamestown Foundation (Washington, DC) and a Fellow at the North American and Arctic Defence and Security Network (NAADSN). His project discussing the activities of Russian PMCs, “War by Other Means,” informed the United Nations General Assembly report entitled “Use of Mercenaries as a Means of Violating Human Rights and Impeding the Exercise of the Right of Peoples to Self-Determination.”

This article was published with support from Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung Canada.

 

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Agriculture

Their Strategy in the War on Food

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From the Brownstone Institute

By TRACY THURMAN  

In my previous two articles, we covered the global war on farmers and the culprits behind this agenda. Today, we will dive into the tactics these organizations use to foist their dystopian vision on the rest of us.

Perhaps you remember Event 201, the pandemic simulation run in late 2019 that served as a dress rehearsal for the 2020 Covid response. Such simulations have been used in the War on Food as well. Take, for example, the Food Chain Reaction Game, a 2015 wargame that simulated the time period from 2020 to 2030. Cargill and the other participants have removed the Food Chain Reaction Game data from their websites, but Cargill’s version was archived by independent researchers, so you can still see it here.

In the simulation, the decade brought “two major food crises, with prices approaching 400 percent of the long term average; a raft of climate-related extreme weather events; governments toppling in Pakistan and Ukraine; and famine and refugee crises in Bangladesh, Myanmar, Chad and Sudan.” When the game ended, its organizers had imposed meat taxes in Europe, capped CO2 emissions, and instituted a global carbon tax. The time period of the Food Chain Reaction Game handily coincides with the 2020 Covid crisis and ends with the culmination of Agenda 2030. If you don’t think those dates are significant, you aren’t paying attention.

The parties behind this simulation include the World Wildlife Fund, the Center for American Progress, the Center for Naval Analyses, and Cargill. Note the participation of US military and intelligence-linked organizations in this simulation, much as they appeared throughout the Covid power grab. Cargill, as I mentioned before, is one of the most powerful members of the global Big Ag cartel and have excelled in crushing independent farmers globally to establish total control of the food supply. The Center For American Progress is a Soros and Podesta-affiliated think tank.

The World Wildlife Fund has a shady Malthusian history dating to its eugenicist founders like Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands, co-founder of the Bilderberg Group; transhumanist Julian Huxley (brother of Brave New World author Aldous Huxley); and Britain’s Prince Philip, who said he wanted to be reincarnated “as a deadly virus, to contribute something to solving overpopulation.”

Note that the measures these conspirators concocted – meat taxes and a global carbon tax – have nothing to do with increasing the food supply to end famine – much as Event 201’s participants obsessed about vaccines and controlling misinformation rather than providing effective early treatment for disease. To state the obvious, neither simulation is really about solving hunger or viral contagion. They are designed to game out how to ram an agenda down the throats of an unwilling populace.

Both exercises are classic examples of Hegelian Dialectic, the problem-reaction-solution strategy whereby a problem is created or used to stimulate public demand for a solution. The solution always involves pre-planned actions or legislation that never would have passed public approval before the problem was created. To quote Rahm Emanuel, President Obama’s Chief of Staff, “Never let a serious crisis go to waste. By that I mean, it’s an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before.”

The goal of the Food Chain Reaction Game simulation and the global elites who share this vision is simple but devastating: the controlled demolition of the current food supply and supply chain network – not to end factory farming and replace it with regenerative, earth healing agriculture – but to replace it with a global, centralized, fully surveilled, and tightly controlled food system based on lab-created and industrially processed so-called foods, with little dietary choice and abysmal health outcomes for all but the elites, using climate change as the excuse for it all.

As Bertrand Russell predicted, diet will not be left to individuals, but will be such as the best biochemists recommend.

If you’re new to this topic, you may feel that statement is hyperbolic. It is hard to grasp that there are people planning something this far-reaching and diabolical – it’s as far-fetched as a network of global elites using a lab-escaped virus as an excuse to destroy the economies of the world and forcibly inject billions with experimental poisons. But it is reality, and as the quotes from Bertrand Russell and Monsanto’s CEO hint, this agenda has been in the works for decades.

In my next article, we will look at some of the publicly acknowledged projects that are in the pipeline for achieving this goal.

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Tracy Thurman is an advocate for regenerative farming, food sovereignty, decentralized food systems, and medical freedom. She works with the Barnes Law Firm’s public interest division to safeguard the right to purchase food directly from farmers without government interference.

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Agriculture

The Netherlands Reverses Host of Climate Policies

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From Heartland Daily News

Agriculture-focused polices the new government is reversing include the previous government’s forced buyout and retirement of farms to cut fertilizer use and associated nitrogen emissions

The Netherlands recently elected a new right-of-center government which is downplaying climate alarm and European Union (EU)-driven climate policies that harm the country’s residents and agricultural producers.

“Geert Wilders, a prominent figure in Dutch politics, has led a coalition that marks a decisive shift in the Netherlands’ approach to climate policy. Wilders, often dubbed the “Dutch Trump,” formed a new government that includes the Farmer-Citizen Movement (BBB),” writes Charles Rotter at Watts Up With That. Rotter quotes a report in The Telegraph on the political right’s rise in the Netherlands and what it means for climate policy:

The Netherlands will tear up rules forcing homeowners to buy heat pumps as part of a war on net zero by Geert Wilders and the Dutch farmers’ party. Six months after his shock election victory, Mr. Wilders this week struck an agreement to usher in a Right-wing coalition government of four parties. “We are writing history,” he said as he announced the program for the new government.

Among the EU-endorsed climate policies Wilders’ coalition government is rescinding is the heat pump mandate, which would have forced homeowners to switch to expensive, inefficient hybrid heat pumps  from traditional air conditioning and heating systems.

The EU had established a goal of installing a minimum of 10 million new heat pumps by 2027 as part of its 2050 net-zero ambition, a plan the previous Dutch government had endorsed and imposed. As The Telegraph reported, the Dutch government’s heat pump mandate was intended to drive “down Dutch household use of natural gas for heating, which is the largest source of its gas consumption, equivalent to about 30 percent in total.”

Commending the new coalition government’s reversal, Caroline van der Plas, leader of the BBB,  cheerfully said, “Thanks to BBB’s efforts, the mandatory heat pump will be abolished.”

Agriculture-focused polices the new government is reversing include the previous government’s forced buyout and retirement of farms to cut fertilizer use and associated nitrogen emissions. In its place, the new government will establish a series of voluntary incentives to reduce emissions and offer interested farmers voluntary buyouts to end production.

Wilders government is also set to end subsidies for electric vehicles by 2025, which, as Rotter notes, is “a departure from the EU’s blanket approach to climate policy. These subsidies have been criticized for benefiting the wealthy who can afford electric vehicles while doing little to address broader environmental issues.”

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