Russian billionaire faces a food crisis due to the Ukraine war


A global food crisis will break out unless the war in Ukraine is stopped as fertilizer prices rise so quickly that many farmers can no longer afford to supply nutrients to the soil, fertilizer and coal billionaires of Russia Andrei Melnichenko said on Monday.

Russia’s richest businessmen have publicly called for peace since President Vladimir Putin ordered the attack on February 24, including Mikhail Fridman, Pyotr Aven and Oleg Deripaska.

The United States and its European allies view Putin’s invasion as an imperialist land grab that has so far been poorly executed because Moscow underestimates Ukrainian resistance and is determined to punish Russia of the West.

The West has sanctioned Russian businessmen, including European Union sanctions on Melnichenko, freezing state assets and cutting off much of the Russian business sector from the global economy in an attempt to force Putin must change course.

Putin refused. He called the war a special military operation aimed at ridding Ukraine of dangerous nationalists and Nazis.

“The events in Ukraine are truly tragic. We urgently need peace,” Melnichenko, 50, Russian but born in Belarus and to a Ukrainian mother, told Reuters in an emailed statement. spokesman.

Melnichenko, who founded EuroChem, one of Russia’s largest fertilizer producers, moved to Zug, Switzerland in 2015 and SUEK, Russia’s top coal producer, said: “One of the problems The cause of this crisis will be agriculture and food.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has left thousands dead, displaced more than 2 million, and raised fears of a broader confrontation between Russia and the US, the world’s two largest nuclear powers. .

Mr. Putin warned last Thursday that food prices would rise globally due to soaring fertilizer prices if the West caused problems for Russia’s fertilizer exports, which account for 13% of world production.

Russia is a producer of potassium, phosphate and nitrogen-containing fertilizers – key nutrients for soil and plants. EuroChem, which produces nitrogen, phosphate and potassium, says it is one of the top five fertilizer companies in the world.

Melnichenko said the war has caused fertilizer prices to skyrocket, making it impossible for farmers to pay.

He said food supply chains already disrupted by Covid-19 are now even more painful.

It will now lead to even higher food inflation in Europe and potentially food shortages in the world’s poorest countries, he said.

The Russian Ministry of Industry and Trade informed the country’s fertilizer manufacturers to suspend exports earlier this month.

Melnichenko, just 19 years old when the Soviet Union collapsed, started trading in foreign currencies while a physics student at the prestigious Moscow State University.

A gifted mathematician who once dreamed of becoming a physicist, Melnichenko dropped out of college to plunge into the tumultuous – and sometimes deadly – world of post-Soviet business.

He founded MDM Bank but in the 1990s was still too small to participate in the privatizations under President Boris Yeltsin. .

Melnichenko then began to buy back the often troubled coal and fertilizer properties. His fortune in 2021 is estimated by Forbes at 18 billion USD, making him the 8th richest person in Russia.

The European Union on Wednesday sanctioned Melnichenko for Russia’s aggression. The report said that his attendance at a meeting in the Kremlin with Putin and 36 businessmen organized by the Union of Russian Industrialists and Entrepreneurs showed that he was “one of the leading businessmen involved in the fields of economy”.

“Melnichenko has nothing to do with the tragic events in Ukraine. He has no political parties,” his spokesman said.

The spokesperson added: “To create a parallel between meeting attendance through business council membership, as dozens of entrepreneurs from both Russia and Europe have done in the past, and to destroy or threaten a country is absurd and senseless”. Melnichenko will oppose the sanctions.

On March 9, Melnichenko resigned as a board member and non-executive director at both EuroChem and SUEK, and stepped down as their beneficiary, the spokesperson said. EuroChem has manufacturing assets in Russia, Lithuania, Belgium, Brazil and Kazakhstan.

Italian police last week seized Melnichenko’s yacht – the 143-meter (470-foot) Sailing Yacht A – valued at 530 million euros. Russian billionaire faces a food crisis due to the Ukraine war

Fry Electronics Team

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