Updated Digest: Newsletters on Russia and Ukraine

I thought it would be helpful to collect our recent newsletters on the subject of Russia and Ukraine in a single place for easy reference. As a reminder, the Zeihan on Geopolitics newsletter is free, and a searchable archive of all past newsletters is available here on our website.

March 18, 2022: 
THE END OF RUSSIAN OIL

March 18, 2022:
UKRAINE, AND NUKES

March 17, 2022: 
THE END OF RUSSIAN FINANCE

March 14, 2022:
DEMOGRAPHICS, AND THE UKRAINE WAR

March 09, 2022:
DEAL WITH THE DEVIL(S)

March 08, 2022: 
CHINA, OIL, AND THE UKRAINE WAR

March 08, 2022: 
RUSSIA SANCTIONS, AND NICKEL

March 07, 2022:
FRIDAY — THE UKRAINE WAR: AGRICULTURE EDITION

March 06, 2022: 
ODESSA, AND BEYOND

March 03, 2022: 
WELCOME, A BIT OF BACKGROUND, AND HOW TO HELP

February 24, 2022:
RUSSIA’S TWILIGHT WAR

February 24, 2022:
THE INVASION OF UKRAINE AND RUSSIAN PRODUCT EXPORTS

February 24, 2022:
UKRAINE, AND RUSSIAN INVASION PATHS

February 21, 2022:
UKRAINE: THE WAR AFTER THE WAR

February 14, 2022:
RUSSIA’S UKRAINE GAMBIT

January 31, 2022:
NATURAL GAS AND UKRAINE

January 6, 2022: 
KAZAKHS PROTEST, AND RUSSIA REACTS

December 29, 2021:
A UKRAINE WAR AND THE END OF RUSSIA


Our team at Zeihan on Geopolitics is uniquely positioned to help industry leaders safeguard their interests in a global system that seems increasingly headed toward chaos. Anyone with overseas investments, operations and personnel knows that the global landscape has only become more uncertain.

Leveraging nearly 40 years of combined experience in geopolitical analysis, research and intelligence our custom analytical products and keynote presentations help our clients avoid risk and maximize opportunities, with a special emphasis on the following regions and industries:

  • The United States as an International Player
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  • Agriculture
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To learn more about how Zeihan on Geopolitics can help your organization, or to book Peter to speak at your next event please click the link below.

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Here at Zeihan On Geopolitics we select a single charity to sponsor. We have two criteria:
 
First, we look across the world and use our skill sets to identify where the needs are most acute. Second, we look for an institution with preexisting networks for both materials gathering and aid distribution. That way we know every cent of our donation is not simply going directly to where help is needed most, but our donations serve as a force multiplier for a system already in existence. Then we give what we can.
 
Today, our chosen charity is a group called Medshare, which provides emergency medical services to communities in need, with a very heavy emphasis on locations facing acute crises. Medshare operates right in the thick of it. Until future notice, every cent we earn from every book we sell in every format through every retailer is going to Medshare’s Ukraine fund.
 
And then there’s you.
 
Our newsletters and videologues are not only free, they will always be free. We also will never share your contact information with anyone. All we ask is that if you find one of our releases in any way useful, that you make a donation to Medshare. Over one third of Ukraine’s pre-war population has either been forced from their homes, kidnapped and shipped to Russia, or is trying to survive in occupied lands. This is our way to help who we can. Please, join us.

CLICK HERE TO SUPPORT MEDSHARE’S UKRAINE FUND

CLICK HERE TO SUPPORT MEDSHARE’S EFFORTS GLOBALLY

The End of Russian Oil

This newsletter is an adapted excerpt from Peter’s upcoming book, The End of the World is Just the Beginning.

Think the Europeans will need to get by without Russian crude? You are 100% correct. But you are not thinking anywhere near big enough.

Most of Russia’s oil fields are both old and extraordinarily remote from Russia’s customers. Fields in the North Caucasus are either tapped out or were never refurbished in the aftermath of the Chechen Wars, those of Russia’s Tatarstan and Bashkortostan provinces are well past their peak, and even western Siberian fields have been showing diminishing returns since the 2000s. With few exceptions, Russia’s oil discoveries of the last decade or three are deeper, smaller, more technically challenging, and even farther from population centers than the older fields they would be expected to replace. Russian output isn’t in danger of collapsing, but maintaining output will require more infrastructure, far higher up-front costs, and ongoing technical love and care to prevent steady output declines from becoming something far worse.

While the Russians are no slouches when it comes to oil field knowledge, they were out of circulation from roughly 1940 through 2000. Oil technology came a long way in those sixty years. Foreign firms—most notably supermajors BP and Shell, and services firms Halliburton and Schlumberger—have collectively done work that is probably responsible for half of Russia’s contemporary output.

The Western supermajors have left. All of them. Just as the Ukraine War began, Exxon and BP and Shell have walked away from projects they’ve sunk tens of billions of dollars into, knowing full well they won’t get a cent of compensation. Halliburton and Schlumberger’s operations today are a shadow of what they were before Russia’s previous invasion of Ukraine in 2014. Between future sanctions or the inability of the Russians to pay them with hard currency, those operations now risk winding down to zero. The result is as inevitable as it is damning: at least a 50% reduction in the ability of Russia to produce crude. (No. Chinese oilmen cannot hope to keep things flowing. The Chinese are worse in this space than the Russians.) The outstanding question is how soon?

Sooner than you think. It’s an issue of infrastructure and climate.

First, infrastructure. All of Russia’s oil flows first travel by pipe—in some cases for literally thousands of miles—before they reach either a customer or a discharge port. Pipes can’t . . . dodge. Anything that impedes a single inch of a pipe shuts the whole thing down. In the post-Cold War globalized Order when we all got along, this was something we could sing-song-skip right by. But with the Russians dropping cluster bombs on civilian targets – as they started doing on Feb 28 – not so much. Whether the Russians destroy the pipes with their indiscriminate use of ordinance (like they damaged a radiation containment vessel at Chernobyl!!!) or Ukrainian partisans target anything that brings the Russians income, much of this system is doomed.
Second, climate. Siberia, despite getting cold enough to literally freeze your nose off in October, doesn’t get cold enough. Most Russian oil production is in the permafrost, and for most of the summer the permafrost is inaccessible because its top layer melts into a messy, horizon-spanning swamp. What the Russians do is wait for the land to freeze, and then build dike-roads and drill for crude in the long dark of the Siberian winter. Should something happen to consumption of Russian crude oil or any of the millions of feet of pipe that take that crude from wellhead to port or consumer, flows would back up through the literally thousands of miles of pipes right up to the drill site. There is no place to store the stuff. Russia would just need to shut everything down. Turning it back on would require manually checking everything, all the way from well to border.

The last time this happened was the Soviet collapse in 1989. It took millions of manhours of help from the likes of BP and Halliburton – and thirty-two years – for Russia to get back to its Cold War production levels. And now, with war on in Ukraine, insurance companies are cancelling policies for tankers carrying anything Russian on Seas Black and Baltic while the French seize Russian vessels, and the Russian Central Bank under the strictest financial sanctions ever, it is all falling apart. Again.

Even in the sunshine and unicorn scenario that Putin duct tapes himself to a lawn chair and throws himself into a pool, and a random band of kindly kindergarten teachers take over the Russian government, we should not expect the energy supply situation in Russia to begin to stabilize before 2028, and for us to return to what we think of as the status quo before 2045.

In the meantime, the debate of the moment is expanded energy sanctions. Once everyone concludes that Russian crude is going away regardless, there’s something to be said about pre-emptively sanctioning Russian energy before reality forces the same end result. Moral high road and all that. Bottom line: Uuuuugh! The disappearance of some four to five million Russian barrels of daily crude production will all by itself kick energy prices up to at least $170 a barrel. A global energy-induced depression is in the wind.

But probably not an American one. In the bad ol’ days before World War II there wasn’t a “global” oil price. Each major country or empire controlled its own production and maintained its own – sequestered – market. Courtesy of the American shale revolution and preexisting legislation, the U.S. president has the authority to end American oil exports on a whim and return us to that world. An American export ban would flood U.S. refiners with relatively cheap shale oil. Those refiners will certainly bitch – their facilities have a taste for crude grades different from what comes out of Texas and North Dakota – but having a functional price ceiling within the United States of roughly $70 a barrel will achieve precisely what Joe Biden is after: cheaper gasoline prices.

The rest of the world? They’ll have to grapple with losing Russian and American crude at the same time. If the “global” price stays below $200, I’d be shocked.

The first rule of geopolitics is place matters. To populations. To transport. To finance. To agriculture. To energy. To everything. The second rule is things can always get worse. The world is about to (re)learn both lessons, good and hard.


Here at Zeihan On Geopolitics we select a single charity to sponsor. We have two criteria:
 
First, we look across the world and use our skill sets to identify where the needs are most acute. Second, we look for an institution with preexisting networks for both materials gathering and aid distribution. That way we know every cent of our donation is not simply going directly to where help is needed most, but our donations serve as a force multiplier for a system already in existence. Then we give what we can.
 
Today, our chosen charity is a group called Medshare, which provides emergency medical services to communities in need, with a very heavy emphasis on locations facing acute crises. Medshare operates right in the thick of it. Until future notice, every cent we earn from every book we sell in every format through every retailer is going to Medshare’s Ukraine fund.
 
And then there’s you.
 
Our newsletters and videologues are not only free, they will always be free. We also will never share your contact information with anyone. All we ask is that if you find one of our releases in any way useful, that you make a donation to Medshare. Over one third of Ukraine’s pre-war population has either been forced from their homes, kidnapped and shipped to Russia, or is trying to survive in occupied lands. This is our way to help who we can. Please, join us.

CLICK HERE TO SUPPORT MEDSHARE’S UKRAINE FUND

CLICK HERE TO SUPPORT MEDSHARE’S EFFORTS GLOBALLY

Ukraine, and Nukes

Russian President Vladimir Putin issued an early warning to foreign powers at the outset of his invasion of Ukraine: Russia’s considerable nuclear arsenal was ready to deliver a crushing blow against anyone who would meddle in Moscow’s attempt to bring Kyiv back into its sphere of influence.

While not dismissive, US defense officials are not currently concerned that these threats are anything more than Russian bluster. The greater concern isn’t the strength of Russia’s nuclear arsenal, but rather Russian weakness. 

Russian conventional military has severely underperformed Western, and Russian, expectations. Russian national security prerogatives means Moscow needs to push west, into NATO territories, to secure land invasion routes into the Russian heartland. If Russia has had this much trouble fighting a conventional war with Ukraine, it has no hope of fighting a conventional (read: non nuclear) war against NATO. But that doesn’t mean that a conflict is off the table…


Here at Zeihan On Geopolitics we select a single charity to sponsor. We have two criteria:
 
First, we look across the world and use our skill sets to identify where the needs are most acute. Second, we look for an institution with preexisting networks for both materials gathering and aid distribution. That way we know every cent of our donation is not simply going directly to where help is needed most, but our donations serve as a force multiplier for a system already in existence. Then we give what we can.
 
Today, our chosen charity is a group called Medshare, which provides emergency medical services to communities in need, with a very heavy emphasis on locations facing acute crises. Medshare operates right in the thick of it. Until future notice, every cent we earn from every book we sell in every format through every retailer is going to Medshare’s Ukraine fund.
 
And then there’s you.
 
Our newsletters and videologues are not only free, they will always be free. We also will never share your contact information with anyone. All we ask is that if you find one of our releases in any way useful, that you make a donation to Medshare. Over one third of Ukraine’s pre-war population has either been forced from their homes, kidnapped and shipped to Russia, or is trying to survive in occupied lands. This is our way to help who we can. Please, join us.

CLICK HERE TO SUPPORT MEDSHARE’S UKRAINE FUND

CLICK HERE TO SUPPORT MEDSHARE’S EFFORTS GLOBALLY

The End of Russian Finance

Apologies to all for having not written much in the past three weeks. The Ukraine War has been unfolding with such unforgiving speed and complexity that I’ve just not had time. While the pace hasn’t exactly slowed, the conflict is setting into a couple readily identifiable patterns. That enables me to peer forward a bit.
 
First, the patterns.

  • The Russian military has massively underperformed while the Ukrainians have massively overperformed, and that before all the West’s massive weapons transfers could make it to the front lines. Of particular note I’d like to point out the Ukrainians began the war with but a handful of Stinger anti-aircraft missiles supplied by the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Stingers are the magical equipment the Afghan mujahedeen used against the Soviets to such great effect. Soon Stingers direct from US stores will arrive in the hundreds. Expect Russian aircraft loses to increase massively.
     
  • Russia has begun applying its civilian obliteration tactics: ring a city, fire artillery at everything and anything until there is nothing left but rubble, advance with ground troops and eliminate anything that moves. It’s a tactic the Russians developed in the Second Chechen War and perfected in the razing of Aleppo in the Syrian Civil War. It’s nasty. It’s bloody. I’d argue it’s a war crime. And it’s what the Russians are doing to Kyiv, Kharkiv, Mariupol, Mykolaiv, and soon Odessa. Once Odessa falls or is destroyed, that’s the utter end of Ukraine’s participation in global agriculture. And that will bring the war home to everyone, everywhere.

More on both of those topics in good time. Today I want to kick around something else.

Spearheaded by the West, there are now more sanctions on Russia than all other countries combined…ever, and that without significant energy sanctions having yet been applied. (They are coming, btw.) Imports, exports, SWIFT, it’s a really hefty list of really hefty sanctions, but all of them combined pale in comparison to the fact that the sanctions include the Russian Central Bank itself.
 
Central banks do more than steward a national economy, they also serve as a clearinghouse for all international transactions. By sanctioning Russian banks and the RCB, Russia is functionally cut off from moving money in and out of the country, even if the money the RCB would like to move is Russia’s. This includes anything done in US dollars, euros, yen, Korean won, Canadian dollars, and Australian dollars. It also includes Russia’s $640 billion in currency reserves.
 
The evening of February 27, Russian President Vladimir Putin went to bed with literally $640 billion in the bank. Enough to cover Russia’s bills for months. Probably even years. On February 28 he woke up to discover two-thirds of it fenced off permanently. Of what remains, $135 billion is within Russia in gold – which is beyond useless for stabilizing the domestic market (gold bugs take note). The rest is $60 billion equivalent in yuan (which nobody wants – not even the Chinese).
 
Overnight one of the world’s largest monetary authorities and its attached Finance Ministry just…stopped…functioning.
 
While we are certainly in some uncharted territory, the full default on all Russian government debt has now shifted from the inevitable to the imminent. The only reason we might not see it in March is because the Russian Central Bank chief – Ms Elvira Nabiullina – is arguably the smartest person alive on the planet.
 
(By the way, Western governments? If you’re looking to poach top-notch Russian talent, Ms Nabiullina is absolutely someone you should try to recruit. She’s been one of those people sitting in the cluster of officials 1.7 lightyears downtable from Putin of late, and she does not look…pleased.)
 
Beyond implementing capital controls – which Ms Nabiullina has already done – the task of avoiding a full default on every Russian bond is simply beyond her. Operating in a vacuum is operating in a vacuum. Either Russia’s finances crash due to sanctions which deny Russia the hard currency in which nearly all of its debts are denominated, or the Russians choose not to pay on their government debt to stick it to their (primarily Western) creditors. Either way, total default lies before us. Probably in April, as April 15 is the end of the 30-day payment grace period on the first big batch of government debt. After that Russia can look forward to the familiar menu of carnage that accompanies a full-scale default: economic breakdown, hyperinflation, food shortages.
 
It’s time to talk next steps. A bit of history is in order. Way back in 1997, a series of Thai equity investors realized their sector had a fishy stench, and so they cut and ran. Within a few weeks, the Thai baht was in the toilet and its falling managed to pull most of their Southeast Asian neighborhood along for the flush. In under a year, the contagion had spread to encompass South Korea, Brazil and Russia as well. Four countries that had nothing to do with one another.
 
The original Thai trigger was both tiny and local. The Russian federal government has about $60 billion in outstanding bonds. Plus Russia’s regional and city bonds. Plus the bonds of state energy majors Gazprom and Rosneft. Plus those of the fifty-odd other major firms in Russia’s resource and industrial space. They are all going to zero. Again. (For students of Russian history – military or financial – there’s little about this past month’s events that has the ring of originality.) Every investor who holds nearly any sort of “developing nation” bonds or indexes or funds is exposed, as are most who hold some flavor of commodities funds that target producers rather than product streams.
 
What’s next? Not really sure. Personally, I still get confused when I try to trace how some cut-and-running Thais managed to inadvertently tear down economies several times larger and a half a world away. I do know two things. First, Russian flushing sounds will not be alone in the night. Until the financial world changes how it assembles funds so that Russia is no longer in the same bucket as Vietnam and Brazil, you should expect some insane and insanely-unpredictable volatility.
 
Second, I know that for reasons demographic and geopolitical the world was edging to the end of our current financial models even before the Ukraine War kicked over the table. In my upcoming book, The End of the World is Just the Beginning: Mapping the Collapse of Globalization, I delve into why our concepts of currency and economic management – honed over literally centuries of experiences – are no longer appropriate for the world we are devolving into.


Here at Zeihan On Geopolitics we select a single charity to sponsor. We have two criteria:
 
First, we look across the world and use our skill sets to identify where the needs are most acute. Second, we look for an institution with preexisting networks for both materials gathering and aid distribution. That way we know every cent of our donation is not simply going directly to where help is needed most, but our donations serve as a force multiplier for a system already in existence. Then we give what we can.
 
Today, our chosen charity is a group called Medshare, which provides emergency medical services to communities in need, with a very heavy emphasis on locations facing acute crises. Medshare operates right in the thick of it. Until future notice, every cent we earn from every book we sell in every format through every retailer is going to Medshare’s Ukraine fund.
 
And then there’s you.
 
Our newsletters and videologues are not only free, they will always be free. We also will never share your contact information with anyone. All we ask is that if you find one of our releases in any way useful, that you make a donation to Medshare. Over one third of Ukraine’s pre-war population has either been forced from their homes, kidnapped and shipped to Russia, or is trying to survive in occupied lands. This is our way to help who we can. Please, join us.

CLICK HERE TO SUPPORT MEDSHARE’S UKRAINE FUND

CLICK HERE TO SUPPORT MEDSHARE’S EFFORTS GLOBALLY

Demographics, and The Ukraine War

Demographics is one of the cornerstones of how we understand the world here at Zeihan on Geopolitics. Few countries have had as difficult a series of demographic challenges as the Russians.

Beginning with World War I, the Russians faced serious demographic headwinds. The Soviet famine between the mass casualty events of the two World Wars did the population few favors. The move toward urbanization and the packing in of Russian families into state-built tenement multifamily housing pushed birthrates down. As did the economic downtown of the late Soviet era.

Russia’s population is unlikely to grow again in any significant manner. They’re not alone here; South Korea, Japan, most of Europe have terminal demographies. But Russia also faces a mix of relatively low life expectancy leading to a caving out of expertise and the general Russian “brain trust.” 

We see this everywhere. In Russian industry and innovation. In their crumbling infrastructure. And most important, in their government and military. There is not an emergent cadre of young leaders ready to step up to the plate. The last time Russia could boast a bunch of starry (or hammer-and-cycle-eyed) youths with big plans for the future? The late 70s and 1980s. Putin’s generation. And after decades of intimidating or eliminating and arresting rivals, there are precious Russians left who have meaningful statecraft experience that were not brought up in the Soviet Era.


Here at Zeihan On Geopolitics we select a single charity to sponsor. We have two criteria:
 
First, we look across the world and use our skill sets to identify where the needs are most acute. Second, we look for an institution with preexisting networks for both materials gathering and aid distribution. That way we know every cent of our donation is not simply going directly to where help is needed most, but our donations serve as a force multiplier for a system already in existence. Then we give what we can.
 
Today, our chosen charity is a group called Medshare, which provides emergency medical services to communities in need, with a very heavy emphasis on locations facing acute crises. Medshare operates right in the thick of it. Until future notice, every cent we earn from every book we sell in every format through every retailer is going to Medshare’s Ukraine fund.
 
And then there’s you.
 
Our newsletters and videologues are not only free, they will always be free. We also will never share your contact information with anyone. All we ask is that if you find one of our releases in any way useful, that you make a donation to Medshare. Over one third of Ukraine’s pre-war population has either been forced from their homes, kidnapped and shipped to Russia, or is trying to survive in occupied lands. This is our way to help who we can. Please, join us.

CLICK HERE TO SUPPORT MEDSHARE’S UKRAINE FUND

CLICK HERE TO SUPPORT MEDSHARE’S EFFORTS GLOBALLY

TODAY – The Ukraine War: Agriculture Edition

Please join us today, March 11, for our webinar and Q&A session on the impacts of the Ukraine War and Russian sanctions on global agricultural markets. 

Fertilizers, fuels, feed grain and cheap wheat–we’ve seen prices across the board jump in recent weeks following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine. We know what happened last time Russian wheat exports didn’t reach markets in 2008–a series of price spikes that left several vulnerable governments reeling. Across the Arab world, we saw these consequences play out as the Arab Spring. 

But what happens when food inputs are not only more expensive, but impossible to find? What of the globalized agricultural market, where producers across the global are dependent on imported inputs to grow exported feed grain? Where subsidized bread is made from imported grain? And the transport systems moving everything face rising fuel costs?

Join us TODAY as Peter Zeihan walks us through the end of global agricultural as we know it. It will be a wide-ranging discussion that encapsulates all the many trends in play today, from Chinese Communist Party Chairman Xi Jinping’s cult of personality, to dangerously low energy investment to, of course, the Ukraine War.

REGISTER FOR THE UKRAINE WAR: AGRICULTURE EDITION

Can’t make it to the live webinar? No problem! All paid registrants will be sent a link to access the recording of the webinar and Q&A session, as well as a copy of presentation materials, after the live webinar concludes. 

Deal With the Devil(s)

The Biden administration is shopping around with some less than savory potential partners in order to lessen the blow of energy sanctions against Russia. Venezuela, Saudi Arabia and Iran – all well known and fairly maligned regimes from right, left, and center of American politics. All sitting on top of some of the largest energy reserves on the planet. 

For a bit of fairness, the Biden administration is doing nothing new. American governments have held their nose and worked with a whole host of despotic characters, especially with the aim of undermining the bigger devil in the room. Partnering with Stalin against Hitler. Working with Communist China to undermine a Communist Russia. But if we’re going to continue to be fair, will the outreach work? 

Iran and Venezuela especially present enormous challenges to anyone looking to develop their energy deposits (technical, geological, financial) and even Saudi Arabia – which loves to boast about its spare capacity – would take about a year to bring on a sustainable million barrel increase in production. All told, working with the devils we know in Riyadh, Caracas and Tehran would offset roughly about a quarter of the oil lost from sanctioning the bigger devil in Moscow. 

Add in the Biden administration’s other likely moves to help address rising US gasoline prices and, well… there doesn’t seem to be a lot of relief coming for oil consumers in the foreseeable future.


Here at Zeihan On Geopolitics we select a single charity to sponsor. We have two criteria:
 
First, we look across the world and use our skill sets to identify where the needs are most acute. Second, we look for an institution with preexisting networks for both materials gathering and aid distribution. That way we know every cent of our donation is not simply going directly to where help is needed most, but our donations serve as a force multiplier for a system already in existence. Then we give what we can.
 
Today, our chosen charity is a group called Medshare, which provides emergency medical services to communities in need, with a very heavy emphasis on locations facing acute crises. Medshare operates right in the thick of it. Until future notice, every cent we earn from every book we sell in every format through every retailer is going to Medshare’s Ukraine fund.
 
And then there’s you.
 
Our newsletters and videologues are not only free, they will always be free. We also will never share your contact information with anyone. All we ask is that if you find one of our releases in any way useful, that you make a donation to Medshare. Over one third of Ukraine’s pre-war population has either been forced from their homes, kidnapped and shipped to Russia, or is trying to survive in occupied lands. This is our way to help who we can. Please, join us.

CLICK HERE TO SUPPORT MEDSHARE’S UKRAINE FUND

CLICK HERE TO SUPPORT MEDSHARE’S EFFORTS GLOBALLY

Join Us – The Ukraine War: Agriculture Edition

Below is one of my favorite (if incredibly depressing) graphics from our most recent book, Disunited Nations.
 
Before Africa began the industrialization process, only the best lands on the continent were under cultivation. As a rule, slopes, jungle, arids, and marshes make for horrible farmland, and Africa was no exception. Africa in 1950 had well less than one-quarter of its land mass under crop, and yields per acre were decidedly pre-industrial.
 
But then the American-led globalized Order occurred. Africans were for the first time able to tap industrial inputs en masse: fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, better seeds and mechanical equipment. And above, finance, to allow for the purchase of fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, better seeds and mechanical equipment.

Fast-forward to the year 2000 and Africa became a continent changed. Add industrial inputs to okish lands and the Africans got great yields. Add industrial inputs to crap lands and the Africans got okish yields. In five decades, the Africans presided over the quintupling of their local food supplies. The reason we think of Africa as food insecure is because most African countries … are. Output may have increased by a factor of five, but during the same time window Africa’s population increased by a factor of six.
 
Industrialization is great…until it’s not. Nearly all of Africa’s agricultural inputs are imported from a different continent. Should anything happen to those input flows, much of what has made modern African agriculture successful will unwind with a vengeance…and Africa’s population will still need to be fed.
 
We’ve been babystepping to a collapse of agricultural supply chains for over a decade, but the sharp shock of the Ukraine War has kicked the deglobalization process into high gear. This calendar year we will experience breakdowns in the supply systems that make industrialized agriculture possible, and not just in Africa. The Middle East and East Asia also face a catastrophic unwinding of the input streams that keep regional populations alive, while major agricultural producers like Australia and Brazil will face challenges far beyond what their systems are capable of tolerating. The result is the same in all of them: lower yields.
 
And lower yields means famine.

Join us March 11 as Peter Zeihan walks us through the end of global agricultural as we know it. It will be a wide-ranging discussion that encapsulates all the many trends in play today, from Chinese Communist Party Chairman Xin Jinping’s cult of personality, to dangerously low energy investment to, of course, the Ukraine War.

REGISTER FOR THE UKRAINE WAR: AGRICULTURE EDITION

Can’t make it to the live webinar? No problem! All paid registrants will be sent a link to access the recording of the webinar and Q&A session, as well as a copy of presentation materials, after the live webinar concludes. 

China, Oil, and the Ukraine War

Russia is finding it increasingly difficult to sell its oil in Europe and other traditional markets, as a mixture of sanctions, market pressures and consumer choice are shifting against Moscow. It’s not that Russia is barred against selling oil. It’s that shippers, insurers, and dock workers don’t want anything to do with the stuff. So where does it go?

There is a persistent question – and at times, assumption – that Beijing will step in to buy up whatever crude Russia can’t sell elsewhere.

Not so fast. 

The problem is infrastructure. The pipelines that carry oil to Russia’s Pacific loading terminal, and directly into China itself, source their crude from eastern fields. Russia’s western exports are sourced from western fields. There’s precious little in the way of connecting infrastructure between the two–meaning if Russia can’t load tankers in the Baltic and Black seas, there’s little reason to pump it at all. What does this mean for Chinese imports of Russian crude? Probably not what you’d expect…


Here at Zeihan On Geopolitics we select a single charity to sponsor. We have two criteria:
 
First, we look across the world and use our skill sets to identify where the needs are most acute. Second, we look for an institution with preexisting networks for both materials gathering and aid distribution. That way we know every cent of our donation is not simply going directly to where help is needed most, but our donations serve as a force multiplier for a system already in existence. Then we give what we can.
 
Today, our chosen charity is a group called Medshare, which provides emergency medical services to communities in need, with a very heavy emphasis on locations facing acute crises. Medshare operates right in the thick of it. Until future notice, every cent we earn from every book we sell in every format through every retailer is going to Medshare’s Ukraine fund.
 
And then there’s you.
 
Our newsletters and videologues are not only free, they will always be free. We also will never share your contact information with anyone. All we ask is that if you find one of our releases in any way useful, that you make a donation to Medshare. Over one third of Ukraine’s pre-war population has either been forced from their homes, kidnapped and shipped to Russia, or is trying to survive in occupied lands. This is our way to help who we can. Please, join us.

CLICK HERE TO SUPPORT MEDSHARE’S UKRAINE FUND

CLICK HERE TO SUPPORT MEDSHARE’S EFFORTS GLOBALLY

Russia Sanctions, and Nickel

The London Metals Exchange halted nickel trades today after prices approximately tripled. Nickel is a metal that surrounds us in our daily lives, primarily as an alloy component in stainless steel: bridges, cutlery, appliances. 

But nickel’s importance in our future lives may be even greater still. While not as flashy – at least, before current events in Europe started pushing commodity prices higher – as lithium and cobalt, nickel is every bit as important for green tech. Nickel’s ubiquity and commonplace role in our lives actually helps hide its importance. When was the last time you read a think-piece on nickel supply chains?

As we look toward technologies of tomorrow, their positive impacts have to be weighed against the variety of new and growing inputs going into goods such as electric vehicles; you might be able to detach your economy from a handful of problematic energy exporting countries only to open yourself up to dozens of smaller, more precarious trade relationships.

Here at Zeihan On Geopolitics we select a single charity to sponsor. We have two criteria:
 
First, we look across the world and use our skill sets to identify where the needs are most acute. Second, we look for an institution with preexisting networks for both materials gathering and aid distribution. That way we know every cent of our donation is not simply going directly to where help is needed most, but our donations serve as a force multiplier for a system already in existence. Then we give what we can.
 
Today, our chosen charity is a group called Medshare, which provides emergency medical services to communities in need, with a very heavy emphasis on locations facing acute crises. Medshare operates right in the thick of it. Until future notice, every cent we earn from every book we sell in every format through every retailer is going to Medshare’s Ukraine fund.
 
And then there’s you.
 
Our newsletters and videologues are not only free, they will always be free. We also will never share your contact information with anyone. All we ask is that if you find one of our releases in any way useful, that you make a donation to Medshare. Over one third of Ukraine’s pre-war population has either been forced from their homes, kidnapped and shipped to Russia, or is trying to survive in occupied lands. This is our way to help who we can. Please, join us.

CLICK HERE TO SUPPORT MEDSHARE’S UKRAINE FUND

CLICK HERE TO SUPPORT MEDSHARE’S EFFORTS GLOBALLY