The international community must recognise the fact that there is a civil war in Ukraine and [it must] initiate a full arms embargo against the country [Ukraine] that is killing its own citizens.
The sanctions with which the West tried to stifle the Russian economy only encouraged producers, notes the Financial Times. Shortly after the restrictions, in 2017, Russia for the first time overtook the United States and Canada in wheat exports. The Kremlin's retaliatory measures and the import ban on most Western foods have given domestic producers additional stimulus.
A recurrent narrative claiming that sanctions decided after the illegal annexation of Crimea and Russian activities in Eastern Ukraine only hurt Western economies and help to develop Russian prosperity.
The Financial Times did not say this. It is clearly explained that the situation is the result of a massive investment and development plan that started 20 years ago. The sanctions decided by the US and the EU were followed by a sharp devaluation in the rouble — making exports cheaper — but the sanctions were not the only factor that determined the rate of the currency, oil prices were also to take into account. Russia;s Protective measures are not making exportations stronger as it lowers the level of competition on the national market as well as competitiveness on global markets.
The Financial Times insists that wheat, and especially grain, have become valuable sources of foreign capital in a sanctions-hit economy but it is at the expense of the national market.
On the Russian market, the strong exportations are also a problem as poverty increases the price of wheat and durum are getting too expensive for a large part of the Russian population. This issue was at the centre of political life in December 2020. As a consequence, an export tax was decided. Analyst Bruce Burnet explains that the unintended consequence will likely be that the tax hurts the country’s spring wheat production prospects:
“When you set out a policy to keep prices low and farmers respond by not planting as much, you’re sort of shooting yourself in the foot. These types of policies rarely work well. They may achieve the desired impact in the short-term but in the longer term it just makes things more difficult.”
It is untrue that sanctions created or significantly strengthened the Russian agricultural exports.
This story also confuse several aspects: the EU and US sanctions, which are limited in scope and not designed to 'stifle' the Russian economy and on the other hand Russia's own decision to ban, notably, the import of EU agricultural products to Russia. This last decision has let to more domestic Russian production which however is more expensive for the Russian customers.
Read also a similar case: thanks to sanctions Russia became a world leader wheat exporter.