1. Vladimir Putin has lost interest in diplomatic efforts to end his war with Ukraine and instead appears set on seizing as much territory as possible, according to three people briefed on conversations with the Russian president. Putin, who was seriously considering a peace deal with Ukraine after Russia suffered battlefield setbacks last month, has told people involved in trying to end the conflict that he sees no prospects for a settlement. “Putin sincerely believes in the nonsense he hears on [Russian] television and he wants to win big,” said a person briefed on the talks. (Source: ft.com)
2. Conquest, war, famine and plague are known as the horsemen of the apocalypse. After the pandemic and the Ukraine war comes the 2023 famine, an event that is not just a speculative possibility but a foreseeable occurrence, given the one-to-one relationship between the use of fertilizers and crop yields. Russia’s military campaign is going badly, even now that the Russian army is focusing on the east and the south. Russia’s biggest strength is that the world is dependent on it. One of the downstream products from Russian commodities are fertilizers. Germany’s farmers have warned of mass crop failures in 2023 as a result of fertilizer shortages, and are calling on the government to build fertilizer reserves. Unfortunately, this is something for the future. It won’t save the world next year. Russia, Ukraine and Belarus together are absolutely critical for the global food supply chains. The focus so far has been on wheat exports. In 2020, Russia was the world’s largest wheat exporter. Ukraine was the fifth largest. But wheat is the not the catastrophic bit. It is fertilizers. The price of nitrogen-based fertilizers has gone up from $200-300 per tonne to $1700. They constitute the largest product group. (Source: eurointelligence.com)
3. Indonesia's ban on palm oil exports -- a bid to stem rising domestic prices -- threatens to further inflate food prices around the world. Indonesian President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo last week said the ban on shipments of "raw materials for cooking oil and cooking oil" will take effect on Thursday and remain in place for an indefinite period. Indonesia's government is expected to announce details of its embargo before then. Palm oil is a key ingredient in a wide range of consumer products, from processed foods to cosmetics, and Indonesia accounts for about 60% of global production. (Source: asia.nikkei.com)
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