Reviews | Ukraine is the first real world war
US-based commercial satellite companies like Maxar Technologies allowed anyone to see from space hundreds of desperate people queuing for food outside a supermarket in Mariupol – even as the Russians surrounded the city to the ground and prohibited any journalist from entering.
Then there are the Cyber Warriors who can jump into combat from anywhere – and have. CNBC reported that “a popular Twitter account named ‘Anonymous’ said the shadowy activist group was waging a ‘cyber war’ against Russia.” The account, which has more than 7.9 million subscribers worldwide – almost eight times more than the entire Russian military (including some 500,000 new anonymous subscribers since the invasion of Ukraine by the Russia) – “claimed responsibility for disabling major Russian government, news and corporate websites and leaking data from entities such as Roskomnadzor, the federal agency tasked with censoring Russian media.
These non-governmental organizations, powerful global players and platforms were not present during World War I or II.
But just as so many other people can affect this war, others can also be affected. Russia and Ukraine are key suppliers of wheat and fertilizer to the agricultural supply chains that now feed the world and that this war has disrupted. A war between just two countries in Europe has driven up the price of food for Egyptians, Brazilians, Indians and Africans.
And because Russia is one of the world’s largest exporters of natural gas, crude oil and diesel fuel used by farmers in their tractors, sanctions on Russian energy infrastructure are curbing its exports, driving up prices by gasoline at the pump from Minneapolis to Mexico via Mumbai. , and forcing farmers as far away as Argentina to ration their use of diesel-powered tractors or reduce the use of fossil fuel-rich fertilizers, jeopardizing Argentina’s agricultural exports and further increasing world prices soaring foodstuffs.
There is another unexpected aspect of financial globalization in this war that you really need to keep an eye on: Putin has saved more than $600 billion in gold, foreign government bonds and foreign currency, from all of Russia’s energy and mineral exports, precisely so that he would have a cushion if he were sanctioned by the West. But Putin apparently forgot that in today’s connected world, as is common practice, his government had deposited most of it in banks in Western countries and China.
According to the Atlantic Council GeoEconomics Center, the top six countries where the Russian central bank‘s foreign currency assets are stored by percentage are: China, 17.7%; France, 15.6%; Japan, 12.8%; Germany, 12.2%; United States, 8.5%; and Great Britain, 5.8%. In addition, the Bank for International Settlements and the International Monetary Fund have 6.4%.
Each of these countries except China has now frozen the Russian reserves it holds – so around $330 billion is inaccessible to Putin, according to the Atlantic Council Tracker. But not only can the Russian state not touch these reserves to support its crumbling economy, there will be a huge to push to use this money to pay for repairs to rebuild Ukrainian homes, apartment buildings, roads and government structures that the Russian military destroyed in Putin’s war of choice.