Ukraine: The Breadbasket of Russia

Ukrainian service members look for and collect unexploded shells after a fighting with a Russian raiding group in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv on February 26.

Ukraine: The Breadbasket of Russia

‘And surely Russia is willing to wage war over it.’

Almost everyone got it wrong. Just about every so-called expert on the matter scoffed at the possibility of Russia invading Ukraine. “No, Russia will not invade Ukraine,” Harun Yilmaz, an expert on Ukraine and the Caucasus, declared confidently on February 9. Forbes was similarly bullish and dogmatic last December: “Given all the potential drawbacks, a Russian invasion of Ukraine looks both foolish and unlikely.” And on February 16, just eight days before Russia invaded, the Atlantic Council ran the headline, “Why Putin Won’t Invade Ukraine.

The benefit of hindsight might inspire schadenfreude over such obvious wrongness. But I invite the reader to instead contemplate an example of spectacular foresight.

One final expert opinion about Russia and Ukraine: “Russia’s attack on Georgia in August marks the beginning of a dangerous new era in history. … Will a crisis occur over Ukraine? That area is the breadbasket of Russia, and surely it is willing to wage war over that as well.”

That prediction was made by Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry in 2008.

Why did his prediction ultimately prove so prescient? First off, it was based in provable historical fact.

The Currency of Currencies

Agriculture was critical to the Soviet economy. Vladimir Lenin, founder of Soviet Russia, once called grain “the currency of currencies.” If the ussr were a bank, the Soviet republics would be the investors. And Ukraine would be the most important one.

With its rich, dark fertile soils, Ukraine’s agricultural output was the bedrock of the Soviet Union’s economy. The policy of collectivization made sure of it.

Enacted in the 1930s by Joseph Stalin, collectivization was a socialist policy that transferred ownership of land in the Soviet republics to the Soviet state. Peasant farmers were forced from their land and state actors took control. Suddenly, the state owned the agricultural produce and redistributed it across the union.

All 15 republics contributed. But none were as important as Ukraine. On its own, Ukraine was responsible for 20 percent of the Soviet Union’s agricultural output.

But the socialist agricultural practices were a disaster. Agricultural output dropped by millions of tons. What little produce remained was taken by the state and sold for a profit. Anyone caught stealing grain was killed or exiled in Siberia. By the time Stalin made it legal for Ukrainians to eat their own harvest again, 7 million had died.

To Stalin, this cruelty was worth it. He killed dissenters, funded his authoritarian regime, and made sure that he was in total control of the breadbasket of the ussr. Today, Putin is doing the same.

Creating a Crisis

In the decades after the ussr’s collapse in 1991, Ukraine has gradually returned to its former levels of agricultural production. In 2019, 57 percent of Ukraine’s land was cultivated for crop production. The United States, by comparison, used 17 percent.

And the crops Ukraine is growing are critical. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Ukraine is responsible for 10 percent of global wheat exports, 14 percent of corn exports and about 50 percent of the world’s sunflower oil. All this from a country roughly the size of Texas.

In 2018, Libya got 44 percent of its wheat from Ukraine. In 2019, 77 percent of India’s sunflower oil came from Ukraine; for China, it was 63 percent. It was also responsible for 43 percent of the United Kingdom’s corn.

This is why Russia’s invasion has wreaked havoc on the global food supply. Ukraine normally exports about 50 million tons of grain a year. But just a month after the war started, Ukraine’s exports dropped by 75 percent from the month before.

Eighty percent of the land that has seen the worst fighting this year was under active cultivation just three years ago. The war has helped create a severe global food crisis. And Putin is determined not to let the crisis go to waste.

‘Wheat Laundering’

Wars are expensive. That’s why many people thought sanctions would bring a quick end to Russia’s war. But Putin has found a way.

On December 1, the Wall Street Journal released a report on an investigation into clandestine Russian grain theft operations. For the last six months, Russia has been seizing Ukrainian land, stealing grain, and smuggling it to Russia-occupied Crimea. Now, it’s been discovered that Russia was moving that stolen grain onto small vessels at different ports in Crimea. Those small vessels then make their way out to sea where larger cargo ships await. These cargo ships belong to Russia’s largest grain trader, rif Trading House. The grain is transferred onto these larger ships and then sold to global buyers.

Russia is stealing grain from Ukraine, selling it and using the profits to fund the war on Ukraine.

rif Trading House has claimed innocence. Russian officials have denied any wrongdoing. But just recently, Russia President Vladimir Putin established a special council requiring private businesses to produce equipment for the army. Is it unrealistic that he would be behind a clandestine operation to help fund his war? Yoruk Isik, head of the Bosporus Observer, a ship-tracking firm, doesn’t think so.

“It’s wheat laundering,” he told the Wall Street Journal. “They made it really hard to track.” That is the whole point of moving the grain from smaller vessels to the larger ships out in the Black Sea. It’s even why sometimes Russian grain has been mixed in with the Ukrainian—to hide its true origins. Ukraine might be at war, but Russia is open for business. And business is booming.

According to AgFlow, a Swiss research firm, from March to October last year, Sevastopol, a port in Crimea shipped about 40,000 tons of grain. This year, during the war, it has shipped nearly 850,000 tons.

The Prince

In 2005, Vladimir Putin famously said that the fall of the Soviet Union was the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century. And though he came 70 years after Stalin, he is a chip off the old block.

He has been working to reverse that catastrophe. Over the last few years especially, Putin has worked to strengthen his influence in nations like Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan—all former Soviet states. But just as before, Ukraine has been the subject of special attention.

When Putin made that statement in 2005, few understood what it meant for the global order. Few anticipated what would happen in Georgia three years later. Too few took seriously the 2014 annexation of Crimea. And even afterward, many doubted that Putin would move against Ukraine again.

So many have refused to accept that Putin really meant what he said. Too few truly considered what it would mean if he did. And the same mindset prevails today.

News media, pundits and experts all declare that the war in Ukraine can’t possibly go on much longer. It’s common to see the hashtag “Russia is losing” trending on Twitter. Sanctions on Russia and refills of Ukraine’s war purse keep coming. But it is the West that is showing signs of fatigue. The belief that the war is near an end is turning into wishful thinking. And former attempts at fostering goodwill toward the Ukrainian armed forces are engendering frustration instead.

But Russia keeps chugging along. After Ukrainian drones hit a Russian airfield in the city of Kursk, Russia responded by launching surface-to-air missiles and artillery strikes on Zaporizhzhia and Dnipropetrovsk. Twenty homes were hit, and three people wounded, including a 15-year-old girl. Such attacks have been taking place for months.

Perhaps Russia will ultimately be forced into a treaty or some kind of concession. But just as with Georgia, Crimea and this very war prove, Putin won’t stop there. Ukraine as a whole is too important. As Mr. Flurry said in 2008, Ukraine is “the breadbasket of Russia and surely it is willing to wage war over that.”

Mr. Flurry went even further in 2014, following Putin’s annexation of Crimea:

[Putin] is totally undeterred in his quest to destabilize Ukraine. He is single-handedly preventing that former Soviet republic from aligning itself with Europe. This year he redrew the map of Europe by making Crimea—what was a semi-autonomous part of Ukraine—officially part of Russia. He is steadily rebuilding the Soviet empire. …

If you study Moscow’s foreign policy under Putin’s leadership, it is plain that the ultimate goal is to eventually conquer the whole world.

How was Mr. Flurry able to accurately predict Russia’s assertive trajectory so long ago? He looked to history and the lessons it provides. More importantly, he relied on Bible prophecy.

The Apostle John was inspired to prophesy of a massive army, the largest in human history, with 200 million soldiers (Revelation 9:16). He called this army “the kings of the east” (Revelation 16:12). Other scriptures give us important details about its influential leader.

Ezekiel 38:2 mentions a “prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal” (New King James Version). Meshech and Tubal are ancient names designating the modern Russian cities of Moscow and Tobolsk. And Rosh is an ancient name for Russia.

In the September 2014 Trumpet, Mr. Flurry identified who this powerful Russian “prince” is: “I strongly believe Vladimir Putin is going to lead the 200 million-man army,” he wrote. “Just look at the power he already has. Can you think of any other Russian politician who could become so powerful and have the will to lead Russia into the crisis of crises? I see nobody else on the horizon who could do that. … This much is absolutely certain: The restoring of Russia’s power by Vladimir Putin—the prince of Russia—was prophesied!”

Putin is determined to restore Russia’s power. He cannot do that without Ukraine, the breadbasket of Russia. And he is clearly willing to fight in order to possess it. He is willing to attack civilians in order to do so. He is willing to steal and sell the grain of the very people he is attacking to fund a war against them.

Many “experts” don’t believe that he is either willing or capable of doing so. But Bible prophecy guarantees that he will succeed. Mr. Flurry’s accurate predictions are proof of the validity of Bible prophecy. The current war on Ukraine is proof positive of the prophecies laid out in the Bible. And as far as Ukraine, Russia and the rest of the world are concerned, these prophecies are only beginning to be fulfilled.

Request your copy of The Prophesied ‘Prince of Russia’ to learn more from the only reliable source of future events: the Bible.