By Suleiman Umaru
In spite of the ongoing Negotiations between Ukraine and Russian Federation in southern Belarus in a location that was said to have been provided by Alexander Lukashenko, the country’s President, to find a lasting solution to the eight day-old war which has claimed over 7,00 Ukrainian and 500 Russian soldiers, respectively,i Volodimyr Zelensky , the Ukrainian President had requested for’’ direct talks with Valdimir Putin’’ , the Russian Leader.
Zelensky had said on Wednesday, March 2, 2022, that the only way to end the eight year-old war with pro-Russian separatist groups in Crimea and the Donbas region, which was instrumental to Russia invasion of the country would be to have direct talks with his Russia counterpart.
He has told those that cares to listen that they will not be able to end the war which had resulted in Russian invasion of Ukraine without direct talks with the Russian President. He may have been forced to peak out following a Statement that was issued by the Russia Federation Foreign ministry, on Tuesday , March 1, 2022, that the country has amassed 115,000 troops around Ukraine , on the Crimea peninsula, which Russia had annexed in 2014, , and occupied by the pro-Russia Fighters, in the two eastern regions of the country. ‘’I am not afraid to speak to speak with Putin, the Russia President’’, he had said. He has said that Russia may be able to overrun the country as both sides have a ‘’strong and powerful army’’.
Recall that the Ukrainian Negotiators, at the instance of President Zelensky, on Thursday, March 3, 2022, had demanded a ‘’ceasefire and humanitarian corridors to evacuate besieged citizens’’ as Russia forces surrounded and had continued to bombard Ukrainian major cities. It was not surprising that at the second round of talks between the two warring countries, they were said to have agreed ‘’to establish corridors for civilians to safely leave the war zones’’. The corridors, according to a top Ukrainian government official includes ‘’ceasefire’’ along the path.
Putin may have shocked the International Community when he revealed that ‘’the Special military operation in Ukraine is going on, according to plan’’, stressing that Russia troops have seized control of Kherson in the southern Ukraine, where the pro-Russia separatists have been fighting with the Ukrainian forces over the last eight years. Furthermore, he had said that several other major Ukraine cities in the country’s south east, will continue to be attacked.
True to his words, heavy fighting according to agency reports is continuing between the two sides involved in the conflict but the Russia which have the fighters and the weapons are said to have seized control of Kherson and the strategic port city on Azov black sea in Mariupol, a city of of 280,000 people.
The war may have taken a turn for the worse as fire had brokeout at the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine described as one of the largest in Europe. This may have sent jitters throughout the world but the US and the Ukrainian officials had said that there was no cause to worry as’’ the background levels of radiation had not changed’’.
The anger ofUkrainian Leaders was that Russia are not ‘’allowing fire fighters and emergency responders access to the site’’, thus sending wrong signals to the world that there is danger ahead.
Sergey Larov, Russia’s minister of Foreign Affairs, may have given a hint to what will be the outcome of the second rounds of talks with Ukraine when he disclosed that they are ready for talks with the Ukrainian Leadership to end the hostility. The minister, may have shot himself on the leg when disclosed that ‘’Russia will continue its attack on the Ukrainian major cities in the southern part of the country in its efforts ‘’ to destroy Ukraine’s military infrastructure’’.The Russia government had asked Zelensky’’ to remove all the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, NATO weapons in all its military bases across the Ukraine to stop the shelling and bombing of the country’s major cities.
Prior to the hostility between the two neighbouring countries, President Zelensky and the leading member countries of NATO, comprising of the North American country of the United States, US, United Kingdom, UK, Canada and European Union, EU, had repeatedly accused Russian of sending troops and arms across the border to support the Pro-Russian separatist fighters in the east which Russia had denied.
Given what is happening at present in Ukraine, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, a former minister of Finance and Coordinator of the Economy,during the Administrations of Olusegu Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan at different times, and now Director General, World Trade Organisation,WTO, has cried out about the suffering and loss of life, particular, in Ukraine, insisting that that the war must end.
An aggrieved Okonjo-Iweala, who made feeling known on Wednesday, March 2, 2022, had said that she is concerned about’’ the trade implications of the Ukraine crisis which had dragged on for days’’. She has alluded to the country’s trade in Agricultural products which had stopped as the war had resulted in the rise in energy prices across the globe, topping about $100 per barrel last Thursday.
. The WTO, Director General, was said to have made Nigeria and other WTO, member countries, that ‘’there is going to be a big impact of the Russian invasion of Ukraine with respect to wheat prices and prices of bread across the world-over as Ukraine, one of the largest exporters of Wheat could no longer export due to the war.
Note that the Ukraine export market appears to have been hampered over the last one week because of the Russian invasion of the country, thus crippling the market which according to informed sources brings in huge revenue yearly to the country. Take for instance, Seed oil export, the source disclosed bring in $3.75 billion, yearly into the country Iron Ore, $3.36 billion and wheat, $3.11 billion.
Of the 18 seaports opened for imports and export of Agricultural products including food items, in the country, the ports of Yevpatoria, Kerch, Sevastopol, Fedosia Douzlav sea Trade port and Yalta were said to have been closed for now due to the continued shelling and bombing of the port cities.
Note that due to the hostility between two east Europe countries, ocean –going vessels laden with cargoes cannot enter or leave the ports of Ukraine with export Commodities such as Seed oil, Iron Ore, or wheat for fear of being bombed by Russia fighter jets.
This may have informed why countries like Nigeria, which is one of the major importers of wheat from Ukraine are not opening Letters of Credit, LC, to do so, due to the invasion. The fallout was that bakers who still have old stock increased the price of bread. The family size bread which sells for N750.00 was to N800.00, meaning that if the crisis continues in the coming months, the price of bread may still go up. This is why Emmanuel Macron of France, Boris Johnson, Prime Minister of Britain, Joe Biden, US, and other world Leaders have to rise up to force ,Putin to agree to a cease fire with Ukraine , instead of taking sides, or try to supply arms and ammunition to Ukraine, to fight Russia , which may further escalate the war and encourage Russia, which have the weapons, to intensify shelling and bombardment of the country that may increase the suffering of the people.