House of Commons
Dear Prime Minister Trudeau,
I trust this letter finds you well. I write to you as a concerned Canadian citizen, drawing attention to an urgent matter related to the ongoing sanctions imposed by the Canadian government on Russia in response to its 2022 invasion of Ukraine.
The federal government of Canada has undertaken multiple measures, such as the Special Economic Measures (Russia) Regulations, to express its condemnation of Russia’s aggression in Ukraine. The successive amendments, targeting key Russian officials and entities, demonstrate Canada’s commitment to standing against blatant violations of international law.
Research however reveals that the impact of these sanctions goes beyond the intended economic consequences, affecting global food security in unforeseen ways. The sanctions have led to the cancellation of Russian contracts, frozen financial accounts, and a suppression of the Russian currency. While these measures have undoubtedly had an economic impact on Russia, they have also resulted in a significant rise in global oil, gas and wheat prices.
Russia, being the world’s second-largest oil-producing country and a significant wheat exporter, plays a crucial role in the global supply chain. Approximately 40 percent of the oil that Europe and America receive comes from Russia, and 18 percent of the world’s wheat supply is sourced from the same region. The disruptions caused by the war and the subsequent sanctions have led to a decline in Russia’s oil and gas production, causing a ripple effect on global energy prices. Moreover, the soaring wheat prices are affecting countries heavily dependent on Russian and Ukrainian wheat imports, particularly in Africa.
The impact on African nations is particularly alarming. The continent’s reliance on wheat imports from Russia and Ukraine has resulted in a staggering increase in cereal prices, affecting countries like Benin, Somalia, Egypt, Sudan, and Tunisia. The African continent, being the largest regional destination for Ukraine’s wheat exports, is facing the grim reality of a potential food crisis.
The growth of shadow trade in Central Asia, as reported, indicates the resilience and adaptability of nations in the face of sanctions. Central Asian countries, which did not join the sanctions due to their strategic partnerships with Russia, saw an increase in trade turnover with Russia. This phenomenon, while reflecting patterns of so-called shadow trade, underscores the challenges in enforcing sanctions and the potential unintended consequences on regional economies.
In light of these developments, it is essential to consider the historical legacy of sanctions and their effectiveness in achieving desired policy changes. As noted by CIA Director William Webster, sanctions often weaken a target country but may not necessarily compel a change in policy. The risk tolerance of the target leadership plays a crucial role in determining the effectiveness of sanctions. It is evident that Russia, despite being under substantial sanctions, has displayed a certain level of risk tolerance, given its pivotal role in global energy and food production.
I urge the Canadian government to carefully reconsider its stance on sanctions against Russia, taking into account the unintended consequences on global food security. While it is crucial to hold Russia accountable for its actions, it is equally important to assess the effectiveness of current strategies and explore diplomatic alternatives that prioritize humanitarian concerns.
In doing so, Canada can take a leadership role in advocating for a balanced and nuanced approach to international conflicts—one that addresses the root causes of aggression while mitigating unintended consequences on vulnerable populations, especially in regions like Africa. The interconnectedness of the global economy demands a thoughtful and strategic reassessment of our current policies to ensure they align with our values of justice, compassion, and international cooperation.
I appreciate your attention to this matter and trust that the Canadian government will consider the broader implications of its actions on the global stage. If there is anything I can do to assist the federal government on this matter, please let me know.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
“THE RUSSIA-UKRAINE WAR: IS AFRICA THE BEAUTIFUL BRIDE?” Journal of International Affairs, vol. 75, no. 2, spring-summer 2023, pp. 407+. Gale Academic OneFile, link.gale.com/apps/doc/A762990168/AONE?u=tplmain&sid=bookmark-AONE&xid=8b765925.
Lopes, Carlos. “The Untamed Impact of a Faraway Shock: Africa and the War in Ukraine.” Strategic Review for Southern Africa, vol. 44, no. 1, May 2022, pp. 9+. Gale Academic OneFile, link.gale.com/apps/doc/A765304714/AONE?u=tplmain&sid=bookmark-AONE&xid=52486b30.
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