Military experts warned us that the tension on Ukraine’s borders would reach its height in early February. Here we are and it is unbearable. How it must feel in Ukraine, I can only imagine. On Friday I was on an NYU panel reprising the argument of Chartbook #68
When discussing Black Earth and Agriculture, we should not leave out the importance for carbon-dioxide (and methane) related climate change. Ucrainians Black Earth has between 4% and 16% humus (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chernozem#cite_note-2) which make up for 40 to 160 tonnes of Carbon per acre in the first 10cm of soil. And this chernozem might go as deep as 3 m in Ucraine and Russia. (https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/earth-and-planetary-sciences/chernozem). This means for 100mi acres between 4 bi or up to 480 bi tonnes of Carbon corresponding to between 15 bi and 1700 bi tonnes of CO2.This is half a years fossil emission (e.g. 2006) and 48 years of 2016 emissions (https://www.worldometers.info/co2-emissions/co2-emissions-by-year/). The deliberate use of extensive and conventional farming techniques may very likely release this carbon and contribute to the depletion of these valuable soils (along with phosphorus, potassium and ammonia depletion). Small scale agriculture usually has a smaller impact due to the use of classical mulching, green manure and no-tilling techniques (that might very well be net carbon sequestering), whereas large scale agriculture by use of herbicides and heavy machinery has soil depletion as inevitable consequence.
Sidebar on Ukraine's "legendary agricultural potential": I was stunned, looking into the archives of Seligman’s ambitious Encyclopaedia of the Social Sciences, to find the editors' alterations of the entry on Soviet agriculture by Lenin’s old foe Peter Struve, by 1932 living in exile in Paris. Active in the 1890s in trying to improve agriculture under the Czar, he'd written for years about ag and land tenure. His contribution, covering 800BC- 1932 CE, arrived in 1932, with Stalinist collectivization well under way, displaced peasants, starving in huge numbers or shipped in freight trains to factories. Struve's ms, concludes dismally:
"The real goal ... has not been reached... a decrease in domestic agricultural production ..., without at the same time promoting ... export ...a terrific famine, on a scale exceeding anything Russia has ever experienced." This grim indictment of Stalin’s agricultural policy never appeared in print. As the Encyclopaedia archives reveal, the New York editors replaced Struve’s text, referring instead to Walter Duranty’s cheery NYT fiction, 'Peasants Rejoice Over Stalin Order.'
Who altered Struve’s text? We cannot tell. The Encyclopaedia’s archives include fact-checking data but yield nothing conclusive. The list of fifteen assistant editors for this volume included Lewis Corey, Louis Hacker, Max Lerner, Herbert Solow and Bernhard Stern, all interested in Marx one way or another: Solow was to play a pivotal role in bringing Whittaker Chambers in from the cold. Corey, under the name Fraina, had been a founding member of the Communist Party of the United States, as he revealed to his surprised associate editor Alvin Johnson, whose response -- another surprise -- was not to fire him. Johnson records this moment in his memoir.
Someone re-stalinized Struve's text. I found no indication that Struve ever heard of or complained about this, but all part of putting a smiley face on Ukrainian suffering.
Not sure how you can hang this on the EU with Nuland parading around Maidan shouting "F the EU..Yats is our man"...I mean the US didn't pump $5 billion into the country for the EU to take the cake. It has been running the Ukriane since it deposed Yanukovich using Pravy Sektor neo-nationalists. Second, how can you ignore the chunk of the economy that was flushed down the toilet by breaking ties with Russia? That is what pro-western Yanukovich was faced with in the final moment...a couple billion $ incentives from the EU or 100 billion $ over a few years from Russia. Rocket motors and machinery used in Russian military equipment accounted for a significant chunk of the economy which incidentally was made possible by the abundance of coal and iron in the Donbass which slipped out of Ukraine's grasp. The eastern regions made up a disproportionately large share of state revenues which now are gone or depressed. Russia on the other hand has been operating under very repressive and escalating sanctions since 2014 which you omit from PPP/GNO considerations. Or that Poland has received some $30 billion in IMF/EU handouts to assure it doesn't implode. Well, I guess if you look at events in a vacuum and exclude enough facts on the ground you can scratch you head and blame it on the EU!
And I wish you would put your $ where your mouth is and hold your breath waiting for that invasion...you'll turn blue and pass out (save a measured response to a provocation on the front line which Ukraine elements appear to be planning for...they started removing mine fields from the contact line this weekend near Donetsk where they have much heavy armor gathered.) The Russian military presence has been substantial there ever since the Ukrainian military (spearheaded by vanguard neo-nazi battalions such as the infamous Azov group comitted to ethnic clensing) declared war on Donbas. The numbers have waxed and waned since 2014. The recent massive drills are not directed so much at Ukraine as at the US..they are used to draw attention to the imbalance in the security architecture that has come about bewteen Russia and the US/EU/NATO. Maybe you should read the Astana Accords? Russian has legitimate sucurity concerns given the inability of the US to keep its promises and keep its military (missiles) out of the Russian back yard. Imagine if Russia topple the govenment in Mexico and then militarized its norther border with missiles and heavy weaponry. Oh, the US would never put missiles in former Warsaw Pact countries...except we had to put them in Romania to protect against Iran, and we will put the in Poland to scare off Santa Claus. Ukraine is 1400 miles of indefensible border with southern Russia; 5 minutes to Moscow for a fast missile. Russia now has the military upper hand against NATO and is flexing its muscles...nobody in the US/NATO seems to be seriously listening which is a recipe for disaster.
The US sure has a way of stoking panic. Fear of war in the Ukraine must continue, even if it hurts the country. https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/ukraines-zelenskiy-seeks-calm-down-panic-over-russia-tensions-2022-01-28/
Climate and COVID are also being milked for fear.
IMF and the US trying to pull off another ‚Yeltsin Thing‘
"... if Russia doesn’t invade, it’s not that he never intended to. It’s just that the sanctions worked." Nancy Pelosi on ABC 2/13/22 with Stephanopolous ("This Week")
First, accuse Vladimir Putin of doing something he never intends to do, a fabricated scenario. Second, tell the world you will strongly respond to the fabricated scenario. Third, tell the world the exact date when the fabricated scenario is supposed to happen. Then, when the fabricated scenario never happens, it is because you are so brilliant and strong to have outmaneuvered and cowed the Russians.
Declare the absence of the Ukraine invasion event as the result of your brilliance and announce a foreign policy victory. That, my friends, is exactly what has taken place.
the IMF and WB make fantastic claims when promising Ukrainians that land markets will bring prosperity to subsistence farmers: "One of the great demands of Western advisors to Ukraine in recent years is that it should liberalize the land market. Perhaps through the development of middle sized families farms a prosperous growth dynamic might be unleashed." Where did this ever work during one's life-time - grow out of poverty without migrating simply by being allowed to sell or lease one's land? The credit schemes offered will hardly help with the bureaucratic burden involved; and require an institutional structure that the country does not have. More realistic would be state schemes supporting smallholders to market produce formally and informally, and why not even guarantee them the purchase of products. Access to social services - pensions, child care etc - rather than land markets would also help.
Very informative....unrelated but wondering what the off ramp is for the Ukraine crisis which pits the US vs Russia. Disputes are settled when each side can sell it as a "win" Perhaps the Russian equity market or the world oil market is telling us that this off ramp has not been found. Yet at the same time, it does not seem obvious that Russian invasion is the goal, it seems more like a negotiating tactic
"One of the great demands of Western advisors to Ukraine in recent years is that it should liberalize the land market" ... So the big privatization is in 2024 or shortly after - nice to know. Will China be allowed to bid? It should make the 2023 elections interesting.
What an excellent post. Thank you.
Adam, what does this stagnation mean for the likelihood of Ukrainian opposition to a Russian incursion. A Ukrainian uprising would be far more likely if there were a good economic future to return to by pushing Russia out of an invaded Ukraine, however, you strongly show how bleak that future is. Mel