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Javier Blas

It's No Pain, All Grain for Vladimir Putin

The exit of Cargill and other western wheat traders from Russia will benefit Moscow’s war in Ukraine.

Harvesting Russian wheat.

Harvesting Russian wheat.

Photographer: Anadolu Agency/Anadolu

Vladimir Lenin is credited with calling wheat “the currency of currencies.” If so, the departure of the biggest names in global grain trading from the Russian domestic market should send shivers down the spine of another Vladimir. But Russian President Putin has nothing to worry about.

Neither does the rest of the world, even though Russia is, by far, the world’s largest exporter of wheat, making it a vital contributor to global food security. The country is also a giant producer of  corn, barley and sunflower seed.

Despite the exit of top Western traders, Russian grain and other crops will continue to flow into global markets. Inside the country, local traders will replace the foreign ones. And outside it — where the authority of Russian ports ends and the activity of foreign-flagged ships begins — Western traders will continue shipping Russian grain.