Skip to main content



How shifting Russian targets impact global economy

Sep 29


As the seasons change, Russia adapts its offensive strategy in Ukraine. Last winter, Russia targeted Ukraine’s power grid, leaving millions without a regular supply of electricity. Then, in spring 2023, Russia shifted its focus to Ukraine’s agricultural infrastructure. As winter approaches again, Putin and his forces are reverting to targeting Ukraine’s energy infrastructure.

Straight Arrow News contributor Peter Zeihan analyzes Russia’s recent victories and discusses how Putin’s evolving tactics affect the global economy.

Excerpted from Peter’s Sept. 29 “Zeihan on Geopolitics” newsletter:

As of September, Putin has sufficiently disrupted Ukraine’s grain exports and overall agricultural sector. Meanwhile, the Russians were bolstering their wheat exports, so global supply has held steady, and prices are still down.

Don’t rely on this Russian grain, though, because new sea conflicts, impacts on shipping routes and an unpredictable climate could change everything at the drop of a hat. The best course of action would be to help Ukraine develop better rail infrastructure and grain transport options.

As the temps begin to shift, we will see the Russians change up their strategy once again. They will transition from attacking Ukrainian agricultural infrastructure back to targeting the power grid… but just because the Russian’s focus has shifted, doesn’t mean grain markets will be stable.

Hey, everybody, Peter zine here coming to you from Colorado. Today, the topic is going to be the next phase of the war in Ukraine from an economic point of view. For those of you who’ve been watching for a while, you know that last winter, the Russians went out of their way to hit the power grid, in Ukraine wherever and whenever they could, because that was the way they could generate the most casualties and have the most political impact on decisions and Kyiv. And then in about May, once it had warmed up enough that you didn’t necessarily need heating in Ukraine, they switch targets to the agricultural supply chain system with a very, very heavy emphasis on the infrastructure that collects and especially exports, the green take it out things like grain silos and ports first, and places like
ADESA, and then later moving on to the Danube River Delta, which is where the Ukrainians and tried to get the stuff out. In this, the Ukrainians kind of face to triple bind. Number one, they import most of the materials that are necessary, like fertilizer, in order to grow crops in the first place. Number two, there isn’t a lot of storage. In Ukraine that was available because of last year’s efforts in the war, most of the storage was full completely. So the Ukrainians were focusing on getting that out so they can make room for this year’s harvest. And in some degrees, there has been failure there, and the stuff has nowhere to go, because number three, almost 80% of this, maybe even a little bit more goes up by water primarily through the Odessa region. And with that kind of offline, the only other option is to rail it out. And that means you have limited number of rail cars, you have to ship it through other countries that are already green exporters like Bulgaria, Romania and Poland, who don’t like the idea of that stuff being dumped on their market. So most of them have barred Ukraine from having terminal arrivals for the grain and you have to keep on going. So for every kilometer, you have to go further, that’s a kilometer that that railcar has to be committed. So all in all, you’re talking about over an 80%, nearly a 90% reduction in Ukraine’s ability to get the stuff out. And now that a lot of these ports on the Danube have been damaged, there’s just no place to put the stuff from this year’s harvest. So from the Russian point of view, mission accomplished. And now they’re switching targets. This past week, the week of the 18th of September, they’ve started switching targets again, because we’re now getting into fall, and they’re going after the power grid again. And over the course of the next month, I would expect that general shift to be almost complete. They’ve destroyed the Ukrainians ability to play in international grain markets any in any meaningful way. And never gonna work the power grid to cause mass casualties again, there. So definitely, the Russians have absolutely won this round. The only way that the rest of the world might be able to help is to massively massively expand the rail connections between Ukraine and their neighbors. And then the next line of countries beyond, it’s not enough just to get the stuff to say Poland or Romania, you’ve got to get it on to the water. And that means you also build out the lifting infrastructure for transferring
something from rail onto a ship because these are countries were already green exporters, that stuff is already used to capacity and basically need to double the entire thing.
The normally you would expect something like this to be really bad for grain prices are good, I guess depends on your point of view, send them up. But miracle miracles, the Russians have had a bumper harvest, so they have increased their wheat exports by over a third. And that by itself is nearly enough to compensate for all the Ukrainian grain that has left the market. So we prices are actually down. Now I am not a grain trader. And I’m not trying to get to give you anybody price recommendations. But just a couple things to keep in mind. Number one, the Russian climate is incredibly erratic. And so just because they had a bumper crop this year, doesn’t mean they’re gonna have a bumper crop next year. Keep that in mind. Number two, the Russians have said that any vessels civilian vessels anywhere in the Black Sea going anywhere near a Ukrainian coast, they reserve the right to attack. The Ukrainians are trying to convince people to come anyway. And they’ve had very, very, very limited success. But that war risk is always there. And for their part, the Ukrainians have said and have demonstrated that they can strike Russian ports as far away as never CSQ which is their major green loading facility for the Russians. Now they have not gone after civilian vessels yet, but again, there’s still the possibility that we’re gonna have a widespread
war on the water, in which case all civilians shipping in the north eastern half of the sea is in a degree of risk. So for the moment, there’s enough grain out there.
I bet get used to it, but at the moment, that’s where we are.
Okay, talk to you later.

Video Library

Latest Commentary

We know it is important to hear from a diverse range of observers on the complex topics we face and believe our commentary partners will help you reach your own conclusions.

The commentaries published in this section are solely those of the contributors and do not reflect the views of Straight Arrow News.

Latest Opinions

In addition to the facts, we believe it’s vital to hear perspectives from all sides of the political spectrum. We hope these different voices will help you reach your own conclusions.

The opinions published in this section are solely those of the contributors and do not reflect the views of Straight Arrow News.

Weekly Voices

Left Opinion Right Opinion


Left Opinion Right Opinion


Left Opinion Right Opinion


Left Opinion Right Opinion

By entering your email, you agree to the Terms & Conditions and acknowledge the Privacy Policy.