Sanctions on Russia worsen global food crisis
As the U.S. and Europe contemplate further sanctions to punish Russia for its war on Ukraine, there is growing concern that the fallout is fueling an alarming hunger problem that will not easily be reversed, amid a combination of rising energy costs and constrained exports from Russia and Ukraine.
Vladimir V. Putin, the Russian president, has embraced and exacerbated the crisis, blocking exports of food and grain from the region and using the shortages as leverage to get Western sanctions rolled back. The region’s critical role in the food supply chain has meant a cascading effect, sending global food prices soaring.
Even as the scale of the crisis became more apparent, leaders of G7 nations yesterday moved close to embracing an aggressive but untried plan to manipulate the price of oil, the largest commodity market in the world. The plan would allow Russia to keep selling oil to the world but would sharply limit the price.
By the numbers: Russia and Ukraine combined export about 30 percent of the world’s wheat and 75 percent of its sunflower oil. Cutting off those supplies has prompted other governments to block exports as nations try to stockpile goods.
Quotable: Janet Yellen, the Treasury secretary, said in April that the U.S. was drafting its sanctions with global food supplies in mind. “We reiterate our commitment to authorizing essential humanitarian and related activities that benefit people around the world,” she said, “ensuring the availability of basic foodstuffs and agricultural commodities.”
In other news from the war:
The trial for Brittney Griner, the W.N.B.A. star detained in Russia on drug charges, is set to begin on Friday.
Russia defaults on its foreign debt
Russia missed a deadline for making bond payments on Sunday, its first default on international debt in more than a century, after Western sanctions thwarted the government’s efforts to pay foreign investors. About $100 million in dollar- and euro-denominated interest payments failed to reach investors within a 30-day grace period after a May deadline.
The default was prompted by widespread Western sanctions that sought to seal Moscow off from global capital markets after its invasion of Ukraine. Yesterday, Russia’s finance ministry said that it had made the payments in May but that they had been blocked from reaching bondholders by a Brussels-based financial clearinghouse.
News of the apparent default shows “just how strong” international sanctions against Russia have been, a senior U.S. administration official said, highlighting the “dramatic” effect on Russia’s economy.
Analysis: “We can expect Russia to stick to its alternative narrative: ‘The default isn’t a default, we tried and it isn’t our fault,’” said Tim Samples, an expert on sovereign debt, adding that Russia also hadn’t submitted to jurisdiction in foreign courts.
What it means: The default will linger in investors’ memories and will probably push up Russia’s borrowing costs in the future. But Moscow’s finances remain resilient even after months of war, and Russia continues to receive a steady influx of cash from sales of oil and gas.
In conservative states attempting to ban abortions as swiftly as possible, the legal battles are accelerating. Abortion rights advocates are coalescing around a strategy of asking courts for temporary injunctions that allow abortions to proceed in the short term. Judges in Louisiana and Utah temporarily halted their states’ trigger laws, allowing abortion clinics to remain open for now.
States that support abortion rights moved yesterday to shore up their protections. In California, a supermajority of state lawmakers placed a constitutional amendment on the November ballot to explicitly protect abortion rights for the state’s 40 million people.
Analysis: “It’s all about the states from here on out,” said Jessie Hill, a law professor who has worked on abortion rights cases. “We can fantasize about federal solutions to this issue or nationwide settlements of the abortion question, but I think that after Dobbs, I don’t see a lot of possibilities at the federal level.”
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An overhaul of the area around Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris after a devastating fire in 2019 will open it up toward the Seine River and help millions of visitors flow through more easily, while also mitigating the effects of global warming.
The cathedral “had to be left in its beauty and have everything around it be a showcase for that beauty,” said Anne Hidalgo, the mayor of Paris. But, she added, “a city like ours can no longer think outside of climate change.”
ARTS AND IDEAS
The state of men’s wear
For a reader considering refreshing his wardrobe after 20 years, Vanessa Friedman, our chief fashion critic, solicits the help of Guy Trebay, The Times’s men’s wear critic.
The good news, says Guy, from the front lines of the men’s wear shows, is that no matter your age, the options are flexible. “The broken suit — or jacket worn with one of a variety of trouser options — is now universally favored among designers,” he says.
Jeans are as present as ever. “The choices are many, although a straight leg and dark indigo selvage denim is a classic,” says Guy, who particularly likes the pricey but gorgeous Los Angeles label Hiroshi Kato. Pair them with a decent jacket, a pressed Oxford or even a crisp T-shirt and a good pair of shoes.
In such an ensemble, Guy says, you’ll be well dressed for virtually any occasion. He adds: “If you want a real break from personal tradition, take inspiration from one of the best shows I’ve seen in years, and wear Issey Miyake head-to-toe.” Pleats, please.
For more: Can a shirt made in India beat Savile Row? 100Hands, a Punjab tailor, is betting the answer is yes.