The EU allows the trafficking of Russian fertilizers and thus damages its credibility

Europe looks to the east and, convinced of the risk that Russia’s war at its doors in Ukraine entails, religiously agrees with its sanctions packages against Moscow. The ninth was settled on the margins of the EU Summit last week. December’s, the last of the year. Where the leaders put the finishing touch to the successive meetings, at the level of ambassadors, repeat offenders in the blockade. The tensions that arose around the relaxation of the sanctions on the transit of Russian fertilizers through European ports and were dispatched with the resignation of Poland and Lithuania. And the European Union capitulated.

It capitulated by easing restrictions on the maritime transport of Russian fertilizers through EU ports in the ninth sanctions package. And he did it because the shipments of fertilizers floating blocked in European ports evidenced a global imbalance that exacerbates food insecurity in third countries such as African ones.

The question is critical. The merchandise accumulates in the main community maritime traffic points because the ultimate owners of these products are subject to the block’s restrictions, although the intermediaries are not. And the decision marks a step backwards for the EU and its retaliation for the war in Ukraine.

In a way, it comes to acknowledge that sanctions are having an impact on the global food crisis. And the EU takes the reputational blow that, even without wanting it, seems to prove the reason for that Russian narrative so insistently denied. The one that accuses the bloc’s sanctions of worsening food security worldwide.

It was Poland that sparked the debate, with the tacit backing of Lithuania. The neighborhood favors that the fangs of the wolf are seen before. So much so that the positions are used to aligning the map to the east. In this case, they defended that the relaxation of the sanctions against Moscow and, incidentally, against the Russian oligarchs who own the fertilizer empires, would allow the Kremlin to have more room for maneuver to fuel its war in Ukraine in financial terms.

A reasoning that found the support of Ukraine itself. His Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dimitri Kuleva tweeted that allowing Russian oligarchs and companies to opt out of already imposed sanctions deals “a blow” to the entire sanctions regime and “undermines support for Ukraine.”

On the other side was a group of countries from the western and northern slopes of Europe: the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Portugal, Spain and France. His position, of course, is in favor of unblocking the transit of fertilizers in European ports. Perhaps it has a lot to do with the fact that the legal situation, as it was proposed, prevented the transit of these goods through the port of Rotterdam to third countries, diplomatic sources explained. Also the blocking of merchandise. And the United Nations messages warning of coming catastrophic famines contribute.

The relaxation of the measure, however, does not configure European ports as a destination but as crossing points. A stop on the road on the route of fertilizers between Russia and other non-EU countries.

One of the sectors hardest hit by Russia’s war in Ukraine has been precisely that of fertilizers. To find its root, one must go to the raw material, gas, the price of which has skyrocketed since the start of the war due to Moscow’s high dependence on the supply of this hydrocarbon. Thus the wheel turns and extends to the food crisis and it becomes more difficult for the EU to produce fertilizers that it used to import.

However, the main origin of the fertilizer crisis lies in the European sanctions against Russia and Belarus, which account for 40% of the potassium traded in the world, and Russia alone is responsible for 25% of the global trade in nitrogen.