Just when international overland travel was just starting to look possible again……
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine yesterday has far reaching global consequences. Despite the rhetoric, for now at least (and especially to Ukraine) the West’s response strategy appears ‘limp’, entirely reactive and ineffective in the short term. Even if sanctions were to include total severance and isolation of Russia from the rest of the world, defining a coordinated response strategy that the majority of the international community can get behind will be very challenging. The strategy must not drive nations such as China, North Korea, Iran and Russia closer together. These nations are all watching and learning from Russia's 'expedition' into Ukraine; they will use the learnings in planning their own adventurism. History will likely judge the actions of the NATO Alliance as 'too little, too late'. Aggressors cannot be allowed to succeed or they will be emboldened; in this case other countries on NATO's eastern flank may become the next targets of opportunism.
In Ukraine, a nation worn down by eight years of conflict and threats, Russian posturing had become normalised. The majority of the population were living in misbelief that the worst would never happen. If nothing else, the global pandemic should have taught us to think the unthinkable. Governments, Companies and other Organisations have a duty of care and should have plans in place to safeguard their citizens, local and international staff and expatriate families. This duty of care includes well rehearsed plans and resources to support safety, security and business continuity in the event of a need for country evacuation. For those in neighbouring countries, now is the time to complete a full risk review, to develop and validate contingency plans.
The associated commercial impacts will affect most sectors of the global economy. Ukraine supplies much of Africa’s grain. Russia is the largest global manufacturer of the fertilizer essential to the growth of crops on the continent. Even with immediate well planned and executed intervention by the West, there is a real risk of further food shortages across Africa. It is perhaps not over exaggerating to surmise, that even without the growing impacts of a global pandemic, climate change and conflict, in some places this could lead to widespread famine.
“The only reason to delay at this point is because the immediate prospect is so deeply uninviting.” ― J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows