The United States in control of the Greek port

The port of Alexandroupolis in northeastern Greece has gained strategic importance as the United States strengthens military ties with a South European NATO ally

This has hurt US relations with Turkey as Western leaders increasingly distrust authoritarian President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Currently, American companies are showing the keenest interest in privatising this sea harbour in Greece.

Alexandroupolis is an important transhipment point for NATO military supplies to Ukraine. It is a strategic location for diversifying energy supplies to European markets. It is located in the country’s extreme northeast, 30 kilometres west of the Turkish border and 50 kilometres south of Bulgaria.

Over the past three years, the US and Greece have signed agreements to strengthen their defence cooperation. It guarantee “unrestricted American access” to a number of Greek military bases. Since that collaboration began, the port has experienced unusually high traffic in military vessels. It is so intense that when 1,500 US Marines from the USS Arlington landed on shore in May, the city’s 57,000 residents faced shortages of certain foodstuffs, such as eggs and tobacco.

“The port can accommodate ships up to 650 feet (200 m) in length. Its proximity to the newly improved road network and connection to the railways make it one of the most important ports in Greece. The US asked Greece to include Alexandroupolis in the list of areas where the Americans will be present. The port allows them to easily transfer forces and equipment to Eastern Europe.”

Liutenant General of the Reserve Ilias Leontaris

The Americans made certain improvements to the port, aimed at facilitating the loading and unloading of ships. In 2021 alone, the US military moved 3,100 containers through it, according to official sources cited by The New York Times. These sources did not specify the nature of the shipments, but assured that they were all destined for US bases in Europe.

This year, more than 2,400 containers passed through the port until July. According to the Greek newspaper Kathimerini, protected Bushmaster mobile vehicles sent by Australia to Ukraine also passed through Alexandroupolis.

The deployment of US troops in Alexandroupolis did not go unnoticed by Russia. Back in December 2021, two and a half months before the start of a special military operation in Ukraine, Moscow accused Washington of sending weapons to Kyiv through a Greek port.

“Alexandroupolis is a gateway to the Balkans and a corridor to Ukraine. Since Turkey has become a less reliable ally, it is necessary to have an alternative route that can be activated”

Harry Theoharis – a former Greek Minister and MP from the right-wing New Democracy party

Forced Privatisation

Thus, the article emphasises that the port of Alexandroupolis has become a coveted geopolitical object now that its management is offered to the highest bidder.

In return for the successive bailout packages the EU has given Greece over the past decade, Brussels has forced Athens to privatize numerous state assets. Including the management of its ports. By the deadline last Thursday, September 22, Greece received two binding bids for a majority stake in the port of Alexandroupolis. One is owned by Quintana, a US company with interests in the energy sector. The other is owned by International Port Investments Alexandroupolis.It is a joint venture led by Greek construction company GEK Terna with US investment fund Black Summit. Two other contenders were with Russian connections. One belonging to Ivan Savvidisi. The other to the Cupeluso family, who work with the Russian energy company Gazprom.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on November 11, 2021 that the creation of a large American military base in the Greek port city of Alexandroupolis suggests that Greece itself has become a kind of US outpost.

By 2025, 1/3 of European nuclear power plants will be eligible for retirement

There are 171 nuclear reactors for the production of electricity in operation on the territory of 18 countries of Europe. There are currently 12 reactors under construction, and another 26 are in the planning phase

During the 1960s and 1970s, due to the accelerated development and improvement of nuclear technologies, there was an expansion of the construction of nuclear power plants in other countries as well. That trend stagnated after the accident in Chernobyl in 1986, as well as after the accident in Fukushima in 2011, due to concerns about the safety of existing reactors and the necessity of additional safety improvements – says Vladimir Janjić, assistant director and head of inspection at the Directorate for Radiation and Nuclear Safety and Security of Serbia.

According to the time of creation and the level of technological development, nuclear reactors can be divided into four generations. Some of the key attributes that characterize each generation are, among others, the safety and security of reactors, nuclear fuel and associated systems, economic efficiency, compatibility with the national energy grid, and the life cycle of nuclear fuel.

Most of the active reactors in Europe belong to the second generation

– Most of the reactors active today in Europe belong to the second generation. They were built during the seventh and eighth decades of the last century. Over time, safety and security systems and procedures have been constantly improved. This was done in accordance with stricter regulatory requirements and international standards. So we are talking about the so-called II+ generation of reactors. From the mid-1990s and during the following decade, the application and construction of generation III and III+ reactors began. The construction of the reactors itself has been further improved. As well as the technology of production and use of nuclear fuel, thermal efficiency and safety and security systems

The fourth generation of nuclear reactors is under development. It is expected to be ready for commercial use after 2030. Many countries are also considering the construction of small modular reactors. This technology is still in the stage of development and testing. However, it is considered to be the future of the further development of the nuclear industry. Most countries decide to purchase commercially available reactors and supporting systems from Russia (Rosatom), USA (Westinghouse), France (Framatome) or Canada (Candu Energy).

– In Europe, there are 171 nuclear reactors in operation that are used for the production of electricity, in 18 countries. France has 56, Russia 38, including the Asian part, Ukraine 15, Great Britain nine, Spain and Belgium seven each, Sweden and the Czech Republic six each, Finland five, Slovakia, Hungary and Switzerland four each, Germany three, Romania and Bulgaria each two, and one each is located in Belarus, Slovenia and the Netherlands. All these nuclear power plants generate from 20 to 25 percent of the total electricity production on European soil.

Twelwe reactors are currently under construction in Europe

Currently, 12 reactors are under construction. In Great Britain, Slovakia, Russia, Ukraine, France and Belarus. Another 26 reactors are in the planning phase: in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovenia, Ukraine, Great Britain. To date, a total of 118 nuclear reactors in Europe have reached the end of their useful lives. They have either already been dismantled or are in the process of being decommissioned.

The working cycle of currently active nuclear reactors is on average 50 years. Many countries deciding to extend their life, based on the comprehensive condition of systems and components, economic profitability and available capacities for electricity production. It is expected that the working life of the new generations of reactors will be longer than 60 years. That will also affect the economic profitability of the construction of nuclear power plants. It is estimated that by 2025, a third of the existing nuclear reactors in Europe will be at the end of their initially planned working life.

Certain countries, such as Italy and Lithuania, have permanently shut down all their nuclear power plants or plan to do so in the near future, such as Germany and Belgium. There are countries that build energy stability mainly on nuclear technology. They will do it by building new power plants or expanding current capacities. In Austria and Denmark, just like in Serbia, laws prohibiting the construction of nuclear power plants are in force.

The biggest challenges as storing spent nuclear fuel are still unresolved

One of the main challenges of the nuclear industry is the problem of storing spent nuclear fuel and high-level waste resulting from the decommissioning of nuclear facilities. It is estimated that around 7,000 cubic meters of high-level waste is generated annually in the EU. Most countries temporarily store spent nuclear fuel and other high-level waste in surface facilities that require ongoing maintenance and monitoring. Finland is currently the only country that permanently disposes of its radioactive waste in underground geological repositories.

Alternative solutions, apart from reducing the total amount of radioactive waste, include the processing of spent nuclear fuel in order to extract unused uranium and plutonium. It can be reused for the same purposes. Currently, processing of spent nuclear fuel in Europe is carried out in France and Russia.

2022 Russian Exports To Mexico Increase 20%

Opportunities in new markets for Russian exporters

Russia’s exports of goods to Mexico increased by more than 20% during the first six months of the current year. It is according to the latest figures released by the Bank of Mexico. In monetary terms, Mexican imports from Russia amounted to US$1.193 billion. In June, Mexican purchases of Russian goods exceeded US$275 million. That is the second-highest figure in the two countries bilateral trade history.

Russia is a key international supplier of fertilizers to Mexico. It is accounting for nearly a quarter of all Mexican imports of nitrogen and mixed nitrogen, phosphorus and potash fertilizers. Rolled steel, aluminium, and synthetic rubber are among the country’s other important imports from Russia.

With Russian non-energy exports to the European Union undergoing a significant decline due to sanctions and related political upheavals, Russian exporters and entrepreneurs have been busy finding alternative markets. Mexico has close relations with Russia and was a participant in its Sputnik V covid vaccine scheme. Mexico’s main exports to Russia include tequila, beer, beef, and automobiles. Mexico is Russia’s third biggest trading partner in Latin America.

Russian multinational companies such as Power Machines operate in Mexico. Mexican multinational companies such as Grupo Omnilife, Grupo Maseca, Nemak, Cemex, Mabe, Katcon, Metalsa and Gruma operate in Russia.

Mexico is not participating in any economic sanctions against Russia

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador announced in March that Mexico would not be participating in any economic sanctions against Russia. He criticized the overseas censorship of Russian state media. There has been some talk of a Mexican free trade agreement with the Eurasian Economic Union. However, this would probably be a step too far for the neighboring United States, with the US being Mexico’s largest trade partner.

However, Russian entrepreneurs have been busy in Latin America with bilateral trade booming in other countries such as Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and Uruguay. An interesting component of this has been Russian sourcing of EU-style products from Latin America. This is because they are now difficult to source in Russia, or to manufacture without years of experience. This includes items such as Parmigiana cheese, absolutely necessary in Italian cuisine. With Argentina having a huge Italian diaspora who still retain that knowhow, Argentinian Parmigiana is now on sale in Russian supermarkets.

Increased bilateral trade also means increased opportunities for Mexican exporters to sell to Russia.

Arrogant Nancy Pelosi’s Caucasian Weekend

Why is the Speaker of the US Parliament going to Armenia?

Author Andrey Nikolaev

After a successful summer provocative tour to Taiwan, Nancy Pelosi flies to another hot spot in every sense – sunny Armenia. But if, in the case of China, the intention of the United States was clear, then who should be angered by the current visit of an elderly American politician to Armenia?

It is unlikely that the arrival of such a distinguished guest can impress at least someone in the Caucasus. Except for Armenia itself. And the declared purpose of the visit? A demonstration of support for the people of Armenia in the face of the so-called “aggression” of Azerbaijan. It looks like a rather on-duty mission. Or not?

Maybe the US is failing to realize its plans? With the arrival of Pelosi, Washington wants to give its role additional political weight.

This is quite possible if we assume the following course of events.

The West is represented by various players so far. The United States tried in every possible way to pull over the process of a peaceful settlement between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

Participants in the negotiation process, including Russia and Azerbaijan, did not fundamentally object to different platforms for discussion. Moscow and Baku understood that such a blur could eventually lead to Armenia refusing the route map defined in the agreement on November 9, 2020.

The information that Yerevan could take such steps became known in Baku after the visit of the co-chair of the Minsk Group from the United States, Philip Reeker. It seems that during the meeting with Pashinyan, the American diplomat conveyed ultimatum demands to pedal the peace talks.

No news demands by Baku

Realizing that the peace agreement implementation was drifting away into an unpredictable distance, Aliyev decided on a military scenario. Further waiting could again stretch for years. Meanwhile, Baku did not put forward any new demands. Baku only demanded the implementation of earlier agreements.

Judging by Aliyev’s actions, he might not have known what instructions Philip Ricoeur gave to the Armenian leadership. And, perhaps, he acted based on his political logic, like a sentry on duty, opening fire on a warning. It is no coincidence that a ceasefire was announced the next day, September 13. Baku was waiting for a reaction.

But then Philip Ricoeur went to Baku. And here, Aliyev realized that he was not mistaken in his assumptions. Military activity continued.

In the arguments of the experts, the scenario of crossing the Armenian border by Azerbaijan was assessed as impossible. After all, Armenia is a member of the CSTO, if there is external interference, then Russia will be obliged to intervene.

But this scenario suits Azerbaijan quite well. After all, Baku is also an ally of Moscow, according to the declaration signed by Putin and Aliyev on February 22, 2022. Just two days before the start of the special operation, which is very symbolic.

Activating CSTO Mechanism

Military activity on the Armenian border in the Zangezur region will activate the CSTO mechanism. At the same time, only the 102nd base of the Russian Federation in the Armenian city of Gyumri, as well as units of the Border Guard Service of the FSB of Russia, which, by agreement with Armenia, participate in the protection of the Armenian-Turkish border, can be the most quickly reacting component of the CSTO in this zone.

Russian units will take control of the territory of the Zangezur corridor, and this will suit Azerbaijan quite well, as it is fully consistent with the agreement of November 9, 2020, which states:

The Republic of Armenia guarantees the security of transport communication between the western regions of the Republic of Azerbaijan and the Nakhichevan Autonomous Republic in order to organize the unhindered movement of citizens, vehicles and goods in both directions. Control over transport communications is carried out by the Border Guard Service of the FSB of Russia.

By agreement of the Parties, the construction of new transport communications will be provided linking the Nakhichevan Autonomous Republic with the western regions of Azerbaijan.

Such a course of events will lead to a result that has long been agreed upon and agreed upon with Armenia in principle. But Yerevan cannot take this step because:

  • The active objections of the opposition and a significant part of society.
  • Behind-the-scenes games of Western sponsors.

Washington needs to squeeze Russia out of the Transcaucasus. And at the same time, prevent Turkey and Azerbaijan from creating transport communications.

The scenario of transferring the corridor under the control of the CSTO, read Russia, seems to be playing against the United States. However, one should not underestimate the ability of American policy to Jesuit logic.

They may well use their defeat for their own purposes, presenting Russia in the eyes of the Armenians as the main manipulator and beneficiary. And then the formal alliance of Russia with respect to Armenia will be presented as actual deceit and hypocrisy.

Quite complicated attitude towards Russia

In Armenia, the attitude towards Russia is already quite complicated. Many believe that Moscow could do much more for Armenia than introducing a peacekeeping contingent and patronage in peace negotiations. And on such fertile ground, the anti-Russian narrative can yield results.

But so far, the Armenian opposition is not promoting the anti-Russian agenda. Protesters in Armenia are trying to recruit one of the former presidents of Armenia, Robert Kocharyan, as their leader. He enjoys great prestige and respect in Armenia. Himself a native of Karabakh, a war hero of the early 1990s, and he is considered a friend of Russia.

The anti-Pashinyan sentiments of the opposition, with the work of Western sponsors, will be able to turn the country against Russia, making the latter guilty for all the troubles of Armenia. In this case, Armenia’s withdrawal from the CSTO will only be a matter of time. And a very short one. Then a tactical victory for Russia in Transcaucasia could become a strategic defeat.

Serbia “persuaded” to make “difficult decisions”

EU persistently demands from Belgrade a territorial compromise on the issue of Kosovo in exchange for European integration

It is essential to make some statements and ask some questions before proceeding with the rest of this article. Serbia always knew how to make difficult decisions, but there is a chance that globalists from EU and Washington will not like them.

  • It is very ignorant to call the process of pushing for a quick resolution of the Kosovo and Metohija status “persuasion”. Frankly, it increasingly looks like sending Belgrade one ultimatum after the other. After EU and US “special envoys” we see France and Germany naming “specialists” of their own. Interestingly, nobody is representing United Nations.
  • EU is not demanding territorial COMPROMISE. They are, as their American and British masters demanding that Serbia hand over Kosovo and Metohija. In no dictionary, I could find that could be called “compromise”.
    • Serbian province of Kosovo and Metohija is not under the control of Serbian authorities due to the ILLEGAL AGGRESSION by NATO in 1999.
    • EU or their envoys are not authorised to offer Serbia “European integration”. They have no authority to make such a decision! The decision regarding new members is made by CONSENSUS of all countries that are already members.

    “Forget that Kosovo is Serbia”

    “We are sending this joint letter at a time of critical importance for security on the European continent and stability in the Western Balkans region,” the leaders begin their address to Vučić. 

    A paper sent some time ago was belatedly leaked to the press. The Prime Minister of unrecognized Kosovo, Albert Kurti, received a similar appeal, only with softer wording.

    Macron and Scholz indicated in the letter that they have appointed their advisers Emmanuel Bonn and Jens Plötner in support of the EU Special Representative for the Western Balkans Miroslav Lajcak. And once again, they linked the “additional efforts” of Belgrade with the European perspective of the country

    Officials at a lower level, such as MEPs, have long been setting the conditions straight. If you don’t recognize Kosovo, don’t join the EU. The resolution adopted in Strasbourg in July demanded not only to recognize the self-proclaimed republic, but also to join the anti-Russian sanctions. Otherwise, no European integration. Even in Kiev persistent voices were heard to “re-educate” Serbia.

    An ultimatum to Serbia under the guise of negotiations

    “ The letter of the two leaders, in fact, is an ultimatum written in sweet words and a clear signal to the leadership of the Serbian state that the political West expects a quick solution in accordance with the basic political and power principles of the EU and NATO line.”

    Serbian historian and political scientist Aleksandar Zhivotic

    In the context of the Ukrainian crisis, the leading EU countries are in a hurry to complete their “Kosovo independence” project. They are waiting for the definition of new European security architecture and are making efforts to pacify the territory, which they consider their zone of influence exclusively.

    Over the past decade, European diplomacy has used a more cunning formulation. It is a “legally binding normalization of relations.” This is the same – the recognition of independence. But carefully chosen words were designed to stop the emotional reaction of the Serbs. In addition, this creates a situation of negotiations, not an ultimatum. After all, the process of normalizing relations involves concessions on both sides. In fact, Pristina rarely makes them. And, if they do during “negotiations” these are ignored and never implemented.

    The broadest compromise represents the maximum autonomy of the Albanians. It is without recognition of independence, with the full protection of the Serbian population and cultural heritage.

    It is time to move these “negotiations” to the United Nations. That is the best answer to the latest pressures and ultimatums.

    What is The Truth about Ukrainian Grain?

    Ukrainian Grain is a Product of US GMO Agribusiness Giants

    The hype raised around Ukrainian grain by Western politicians who claim that only it can save many countries (predominantly African) from starvation is, to put it mildly, misleading, says US strategic risk consultant F William Engdahl

    According to the political scientist, everything here rests on the owners of the land on which this grain is grown:

    “Corrupt Ukrainian authorities have quietly made deals with the largest GMO agribusiness companies in the West, secretly placing much of the world’s most fertile black earth farmland under their control,” writes Engdahl.

    The arguments he cites are, admittedly, very persuasive. I suggest you take a look at them.

    2014 CIA coup & Ukrainian Grain

    According to the author of the book, the desire of American agricultural corporations to get fertile Ukrainian lands and conduct their business on them was one of the reasons for the Maidan coup.

    Engdahl recalls that in December 2013, President Viktor Yanukovych announced that Ukraine would join the Eurasian Economic Union as soon as Russia bought out its public debt ($15 billion) and reduced gas prices by 33%.

    But the opposition was more pleased with the proposed “associate membership” of the EU, which would open up Ukraine to “foreign investment.”

    Eventually:

    • in February 2014, a coup d’etat took place in Kyiv, supported by the US government;
    • Independence received a draconian package of loans from the IMF and the World Bank, which made it an absolute debtor.

    “The main US and IMF demand to the government of CIA protégé Arseniy Yatsenyuk was to open Ukraine’s rich agricultural land to foreign agribusiness giants, primarily GMO giants, including Monsanto and DuPont.

    Three of Yatsenyuk’s cabinet, including the finance and economics ministers, were foreign nationals strongly recommended to Kiev by Victoria Nuland of the US State Department and then-Vice President Joe Biden .

    Washington-imposed IMF loan terms required Ukraine to also lift its ban on genetically engineered crops and allow private corporations like Monsanto to plant GMO seeds and spray fields with Monsanto Roundup.

    Furthermore

    In 2001, Ukraine introduced a moratorium on selling agricultural land by small owners to large companies and foreign investors.

    • Seven million Ukrainian farmers owned small plots totalling about 79 million acres.
    • The state owned the remaining 25 million acres.
    • Growing GMO crops was strictly illegal.

    In practice

    After the Maidan, smallholders leased their land to Ukrainian oligarchs, who entered into secret agreements with US holdings Monsanto, DuPont, Cargill, and other Western GMO suppliers, who grew GMO corn and soybeans on them.

    • By the end of 2016, about 80% of Ukrainian soybeans and 10% of corn were illegally grown from genetically modified seeds, according to a USDA report.

    Zelensky’s 2021 law has greatly expanded this open door to GMOs.

    Everything became easier with Zelensky

    In May 2019, successful comedian Volodymyr Zelensky , a protégé of prominent Ukrainian oligarch Igor Kolomoisky , was elected president. And the first thing he tried to do was to lift the 2001 land moratorium.

    Farmers and ordinary citizens staged mass protests throughout 2020 to block the changes proposed by the former artist. But “covid” restrictions helped him:

    • in May 2021, Zelenskiy signed into law a land deregulation law, calling it “the key to the farmland market.”

    To reassure the electorate, the president said that under the new law, only citizens of Ukraine would be able to carry out land purchase and sale transactions. But he kept silent about the huge loophole. One that allows foreign companies operating in the country for more than three years to buy the desired land.

    As he kept silent about the fact that the local authorities would be able to change the purpose of the land. Everything is simple here:

    • officials transfer arable land to the category of commercial land, sell it to foreigners, and they, in turn, re-profile the land for agricultural land.

    Zelensky signed the bill and dropped his campaign promise to hold a national referendum on any change in land ownership.

    Conclusion of the author of the book

    With U.S. GMO seed corporations already reportedly in control of 16.7 million hectares of prime black soil farmland in Ukraine and virtual bribes from the IMF and the World Bank, the Zelenskiy government has given in and sold out.

    The result will be terrible for the future of what was until recently the “breadbasket of Europe”.

    Now that GMO cartel companies are ravaging Ukraine, all that remains is Russia. Russia banned GMO crops in 2016. Now it is the only major global supplier of non-GMO grains.

    Russia sourcing products from Latin America

    How Russian Importers Have Turned To The European Diaspora In Latin America To Provide Alternative Consumer Products From The European Union?

    By Chris Devonshire-Ellis

    Many EU nationals refuse to comprehend that Russian consumers are able to survive without them.

    In fact, many of the consumer sanctions imposed on Russia date back to 2014. Whole eight years ago! That gave Russia plenty of time to adapt, absorb, and establish new supply chains now already in situ.

    In this article I focus on cheese as a consumer item. Not least because it is relatively easy to examine – just requiring a trip to my local supermarket, which is situated 45km southeast of Moscow on the road to Smolensk and the border with Belorussia. That may sound bland, even irrelevant in the grander scheme of things. However bear with me. The findings are somewhat extraordinary, quite apart from possessing other supply chain and trade development implications.

    The Linked In thread

    The Linked In thread contained accusations from the (mainly EU based) comments that the theme of the piece was irrelevant because the supermarkets I had chosen were in too affluent a region, and the products I referred to (salmon, fruit, and vegetables) too expensive for normal Russian tastes. The implications were that the majority of Russians ‘could not afford them’ and ‘bought vegetables from horse and cart rather than supermarkets’, which is both inaccurate and way out of date to an almost laughable degree – other than then fact that these beliefs persist. It is, after all very hard to defeat a rival without fully understanding their strengths and weaknesses – a concept dating way back to Sun Zhu’s ‘Art of War’. Yet the EU naivety about Russia remains.

    Back to cheese

    But back to cheese. While it is true that cheese as a product in Russia could be considered an inconsequential upper to middle class consumer item, one should consider that Russia has its own long established dairy industry and cheese has been made in the country for centuries – it’s just that not much of it, to be frank, has been especially tasty. Come the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, and the subsequent market reforms in Russia that eventually lead it back to reach the Bilateral Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA)trade agreement with the European Union in 1997, things have changed.

    Cheese has developed to become a popular imported consumer item throughout Russia. That taste was encouraged by the huge rise in Russian nationals travelling to the EU over the past 25 years. A figure that by 2019 alone saw 4.1 million Russians apply for Schengen visas.

    This means tens of millions of Russians since 1997 have travelled to the EU. It resulted in a huge appreciation for European culture, food, and drink. As from 2014, that began to change with the first suspensions of various EU imported food items. A situation that has become even more extreme over the course of 2022 – and continues too. But it does mean that items such as European wines and cheeses, together with processed meats and other consumables, have found a market within Russia itself. They are not ‘elitist’ – they have entered the Russian middle-class mainstream. They can be found in stores throughout the country, with the exception of some of Russia’s more remote areas.

    Domestic replacement for EU imports

    However, since 2014, Russia has had to find ways to either manufacture these products themselves – a situation encouraged by various EU producers, who barred from the Russian market, moved to Russia, set up JV’s and began showing the Russians how to manufacture the produce in Russia. The other option was to find alternative sources.

    Why has this occurred? Because the Russian middle-class market represents about 30% of the population at about 50 million. To put that into context, that is larger than the middle-class population of the United Kingdom. Furthermore, the Russian middle-class is fairly concentrated. Meaning they are relatively easy to reach. Moscow and St. Petersburg dominate in terms of population. Another 13 cities across Russia, easily accessible via rail, have populations in excess of 1 million. Getting middle-class products to them is not an issue, and the market is there.

    I have chosen cheese to illustrate the changing supply chains Russia is developing as it is a relatively inexpensive consumer item to purchase, and supermarkets are easy to find. With the EU supplies cut off, what has happened to replace it?

    While 100g of the product may not be expensive, it’s not an inexpensive question. In 2013, the year before such products were barred from export to Russia, according to the European Commision, the European Union exported US$3 billion worth of dairy products to Russia. Cheese amounted to 50% – an export market worth US$1.5 billion. Again, to compare, that is larger than the value of cheese exported to the UK in 2020 at about US$1.2 billion – and the Brits do like their cheese.

    Swiss, Russian and Latin American cheese

    Examining the contents of my local Russian cheese counter, products are broadly, and equally divided into three: Russian, Swiss, and interestingly, Latin American. The loss of the EU’s cheese export market to Russia has been absorbed by their Swiss neighbors. Swiss are not bound by EU trade terms or sanctions. Swiss dairy farmers are now an estimated US$500 million better off than they were in 2014 in taking on exports to Russia of Swiss made varieties.

    The surprise has been the strength of Latin American cheeses now appearing on Russian shelves.

    The reason for this is the historic migration of Europeans to Latin America. Ethnic Italians make up 65% of the total Argentinian population. Chile has significant and established German, Austrian, and Spanish (Basque) populations. Uruguay is well known for its European ancestry – an estimated 88% of Uruguayans are of European stock, largely from Germany, Italy, and France. Migrations to these countries occurred in the mid-1800’s during colonialism and at the end of WWII as many fled their political past and the destruction of Europe at that time. Naturally, they bought with them their cultures and skills.

    Cheese exports to Russia appears to be a growing export market worth about US$500 million to the Latin American economies. This is not small money. That is why these products are now turning up in Russian markets thousands of kilometers distant. Close facsimiles of Italian Parmigiana are now being sourced from Mendoza. Germany’s Cambozola blue cheese comes from Montevideo. Spain’s famous Manchego cheese comes from Santiago.

    European wines begin to disappear

    Naturally, as Russia’s stocks of European wines begin to disappear, these countries will also see their wine exports to Russia increase. And, along with the various European style traditional processed meats. It is a boom time for Latin American producers looking for new export markets.

    Russia imported US$1.09 billion of wine in 2020, primarily from Italy, France, and Spain with transshipments of other EU wines (such as German) being exported to Russia from Latvia and Lithuania. Georgia is also a major wine exporter to Russia, but the bulk – until now – has been from the EU. Russia is the world’s ninth largest importer – a nice market to have, and the market has been growing too. Those EU exports are also likely to gravitate to Latin America. Wine bars with cheese dishes on the menu in Moscow and St. Petersburg’s trend setting scene are going to be taking on a decidedly Latin flavour.

    Brazil is instrumental in this

    Brazil has been instrumental in this, being part of the BRICS grouping along with Russia. Several Latin American countries have been keen to get on board. Argentina has expressed interest in joining the BRICS group. Ecuador. is negotiating an FTA with the EAEU. One can almost guarantee that other Latin American countries will be taking the developing trade potential with Russia very seriously. The reason Mercosur turned down Ukrainian President Zelinsky’s recent attempts to talk about the Ukraine conflict with them. They just don’t want to know and have already assessed Ukraine has nothing to offer but complaints and harassment when matched against Russia’s trade capabilities. That extend way beyond cheese and into areas such as nuclear energy and the building of nuclear power plants.

    Cheese is an insignificant product in the larger scheme of Russia’s import requirements. These extend far beyond consumables and into technical mechanical and engineering needs such as semi-conductors and aircraft parts.

    What it does show is that Russia can be most inventive when it comes to finding alternative sources to what it wants. The semi-conductor manufacturing market for example is often cited as being under US control. In fact, China’s manufacturing of semi-conductors is at roughly the same level as America’s.

    In terms of aircraft parts, Brazil, China, and a fast-growing India are all developing while Russia has its own internal industry. Product and component shortages will be alleviated over time by increasing cooperation among these countries. Just as we are seeing between Russia and Mercosur and the cheese scenario. Collaborative surprises may well be in stor