The Polish President Revealed That Foreign Companies Own Most Of Ukraine's Industrial Agriculture

Tyler Durden's Photo
by Tyler Durden
Thursday, Apr 18, 2024 - 06:00 AM

Authored by Andrew Korybko via Substack,

The Oakland Institute published a detailed report in February 2023 titled “War and Theft: The Takeover of Ukraine’s Agricultural Land”, which exposed how foreign firms have clandestinely taken control of a significant share of Ukrainian farmland by exploiting a liberal law in collusion with local oligarchs. Their findings made waves around the world at the time but eventually receded from the public’s attention over half a year later once Western outlets like the USA Today misleadingly “fact-checked” it.

They took advantage of social media users conflating indirect ownership through stakes with direct control to discredit the institution’s report, after which it largely faded from the general discourse. Few could have expected that it would be none other than Polish President Andrzej Duda who just breathed new life into it during his interview with Lithuanian National Radio and Television. He was explaining Poland’s problem with Ukrainian agricultural imports when he dropped the following bombshell:

“I would like to draw particular attention to industrial agriculture, which is not really run by Ukrainians, it is run by big companies from Western Europe, from the USA. If we look today at the owners of most of the land, they are not Ukrainian companies. This is a paradoxical situation, and no wonder that farmers are defending themselves, because they have invested in their farms in Poland […] and cheap agricultural produce coming from Ukraine is dramatically destructive to them.”

Duda represents what’s widely considered to be one of the most pro-American and anti-Russian governments at any time in history so he can’t credibly be accused of “pushing Kremlin propaganda”.

He therefore wouldn’t have confirmed the dramatic claim of majority-foreign ownership of Ukraine’s industrial agriculture, albeit indirectly through stakes in national companies that exploit a liberal law in collusion with local oligarchs, if he didn’t have the facts provided to him by Polish experts to back it up.

This development should prompt a resurgence of interest in prior reports on this subject such as USAID’s about how “Private Sector on the Frontlines of Land Reform to Unlock Ukraine’s Investment Potential”. Thomas Fazi’s detailed report for UnHeard back in July 2023 about how “The capitalists are circling over Ukraine: The war is creating massive profit opportunities” is also insightful. Most relevant, however, is what Zelensky told the World Economic Forum in Davos in May 2022. In his words:

“We offer a special - historically significant - model of reconstruction. When each of the partner countries or partner cities or partner companies will have the opportunity - historical one - to take patronage over a particular region of Ukraine, city, community or industry. Britain, Denmark, the European Union and other leading international actors have already chosen a specific direction for patronage in reconstruction.”

One year later, he hosted BlackRock’s management in Kiev, during which time they discussed the creation of an investment and reconstruction fund. According to Zelensky, “Today is a historic moment because, since the very first days of independence, we have not had such huge investment cases in Ukraine. We are proud that we can initiate such a process…We will be able to offer interesting projects to invest in energy, security, agriculture, logistics, infrastructure, medicine, IT, and many other areas.”

Putting the pieces together, the Ukrainian leader made good on his May 2022 Davos proposal by offering companies “patronage” over Ukraine’s industrial agriculture, which was already in the process of unfolding prior to then but was greatly accelerated by last May’s meeting with BlackRock’s management. This took the tangible form of these indirectly foreign-controlled farms outcompeting Poland’s by far, thus leading to the Polish farmers’ protests across the country and the latest troubles in bilateral ties.

The sequence of events detailed thus far places into context mid-February’s report about the G7’s alleged plans to appoint an envoy to Ukraine, who’d obviously be tasked with implementing the Davos agenda if this comes to pass, particularly entrenching foreign control over Ukrainian farmland. It also suggests that Ukraine’s informal focus on ramping up agricultural exports to the EU isn’t just opportunistic, but partially driven by these foreign firms’ preference for speedy and reliable profits.

Ukraine had hitherto been an agricultural powerhouse in the Global South but ceded its market share to Russia on the false pretext that Moscow was blockading the Black Sea, which in turn prompted the EU to temporarily eliminate prior trade barriers for the official purpose of facilitating exports via its territory. In reality, Russia never blockaded the Black Sea, and almost all of the Ukrainian grain that entered the EU remained there instead of traveling through the bloc en route to Kiev’s traditional Global South markets.

It's much quicker for Ukraine to sell its agricultural products in the neighboring EU than to wait however long it takes to export them to Africa, not to mention more reliable as well since it’s unimaginable that these developed economies would ever have the same possible payment problems as developing ones. These self-evident calculations work against Poland’s interests, ergo how much of a struggle it’ll be for that country to defend its domestic market from this influx considering the powerful forces at play.

It's not just the Ukrainian agricultural lobby that wants tariff-free access for these products into the EU market, but also the lobbies of those foreign firms that indirectly control its industrial agriculture. The latter will likely fight tooth and nail to prevent any compromise being reached on Ukraine’s hoped-for EU membership whereby that former Soviet Republic’s agricultural sector would be excluded from any deal. Poland therefore has every reason to continue drawing global attention to these shadowy relationships.

It's only by raising maximum awareness of the fact that “most of the land” within Ukraine’s industrial agriculture sector “is run by big companies from Western Europe, from the USA” that Poland stands any chance of the aforesaid compromise entering into force. That’ll make the country some very powerful enemies who could then meddle in Polish domestic affairs out of vengeance, but Duda’s latest interview suggests that he’s prepared to face their wrath in order to protect Poland’s objective national interests.