Flash Points

Themed journeys through our archive.

How Putin’s War Caused a Global Food Crisis

A “perfect storm” in agriculture is contributing to a global economic unwinding.

Displaced Yemenis receive food aid and supplies
Displaced Yemenis receive food aid and supplies
Displaced Yemenis receive food aid and supplies at a camp in Hays district in the war-ravaged western province of Hodeida on March 29. Ukraine supplies nearly a third of Yemen's wheat imports and the disruption in export flows resulting from Russia's invasion and has heightened fears of a deepening famine. KHALED ZIAD/AFP via Getty Images

Even before Russia invaded Ukraine, experts worried that a potential attack would spark a global hunger crisis. Russia and Ukraine export more than a quarter of the world’s wheat, after all, and Russia is the world’s top fertilizer exporter. Since the war began, food prices and food insecurity have indeed soared worldwide as a result of what Ertharin Cousin, former executive director of the World Food Program, has called a “perfect storm” in global agriculture.

In this edition of Flash Points, we delve into the origins of the food crisis and examine what’s making it worse, its effects on wheat-dependent countries, and its global economic ramifications.—Chloe Hadavas

Russia’s Invasion Unleashes ‘Perfect Storm’ in Global Agriculture

Curtailed harvests and scarcer fertilizer all but promise hunger and hardship for tens of millions, FP’s Christina Lu writes.

Even before Russia invaded Ukraine, experts worried that a potential attack would spark a global hunger crisis. Russia and Ukraine export more than a quarter of the world’s wheat, after all, and Russia is the world’s top fertilizer exporter. Since the war began, food prices and food insecurity have indeed soared worldwide as a result of what Ertharin Cousin, former executive director of the World Food Program, has called a “perfect storm” in global agriculture.

In this edition of Flash Points, we delve into the origins of the food crisis and examine what’s making it worse, its effects on wheat-dependent countries, and its global economic ramifications.—Chloe Hadavas


A farmer in drives a tractor pulling a planter with sugar beet seeds in Humnyska, Ukraine on March 26.
A farmer in drives a tractor pulling a planter with sugar beet seeds in Humnyska, Ukraine on March 26.

Russia’s Invasion Unleashes ‘Perfect Storm’ in Global Agriculture

Curtailed harvests and scarcer fertilizer all but promise hunger and hardship for tens of millions, FP’s Christina Lu writes.


Women wait in line during a World Food Program food distribution on the outskirts of Kabul.
Women wait in line during a World Food Program food distribution on the outskirts of Kabul.

Women wait in line during a World Food Program food distribution on the outskirts of Kabul on Nov. 6, 2021. HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP via Getty Images

Afghanistan’s Hungry Will Pay the Price for Putin’s War

The knock-on effects of Russia’s war on Ukraine are hammering wheat-dependent countries such as Afghanistan, FP’s Lynne O’Donnell writes.


Smoke rises after an attack by the Russian army.
Smoke rises after an attack by the Russian army.

Smoke rises after an attack by the Russian army in Ukraine’s strategic Black Sea port of Odesa on April 3.BULENT KILIC/AFP via Getty Images

Russia’s Black Sea Blockade Will Turbocharge the Global Food Crisis

Lithuania’s call for a naval coalition to break Russia’s stranglehold on Ukraine’s exports hasn’t been taken up—yet, FP’s Robbie Gramer, Christina Lu, and Mary Yang write.


People wait in line for food distribution.
People wait in line for food distribution.

Women wait in line during a United Nations World Food Program distribution at the “Escola Primária 3 de Fevereiro” school in Matuge district, northern Mozambique, on Feb. 24, 2021.ALFREDO ZUNIGA/AFP via Getty Images

‘War in Ukraine Means Hunger in Africa’

The International Monetary Fund’s two top leaders discuss the global economic ramifications of Russia’s invasion, FP’s Ravi Agrawal writes.


University students take part in a demonstration demanding the resignation of Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa over the country’s massive economic crisis in Colombo, Sri Lanka, on May 19.
University students take part in a demonstration demanding the resignation of Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa over the country’s massive economic crisis in Colombo, Sri Lanka, on May 19.

University students take part in a demonstration demanding the resignation of Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa over the country’s massive economic crisis in Colombo, Sri Lanka, on May 19.ISHARA S. KODIKARA/AFP via Getty Images

Sri Lanka Is an Omen

To solve a global economic unwinding, the world must learn to focus on more than one crisis at a time, Mark Malloch-Brown writes.

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