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Yet Another New War-Sanctions Economic Nightmare

June 13, 2022 (EIRNS)—The 150-175% inflation in the prices of diesel fuels in Europe and the United States has had a bad enough effect on transportation, farming, and so forth. Now a trans-Atlantic shortage of diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) threatens to stop diesel engines running entirely.

DEF is essentially two-thirds water and one-third urea, of which Russia was the number-one exporter by a large margin in 2019. Already in 2021, at the urging of Canada-based fertilizer conglomerates, Russian urea and other fertilizers were being subjected to large tariffs by the United States. Now, with Russian shipments curtailed by shipping, logistics and payment problems due to NATO’s war sanctions, storage of urea is threatening to run out. Bloomberg News today, citing the usual “people familiar with the process,” reported the Biden White House quietly urging large companies to start to buy and trade Russian fertilizer; if true, Russia’s statements that fear of the sanctions were preventing those companies from buying, are confirmed, and State Department claims of “no sanctions on fertilizer” are proven false.

To quote the High Plains Journal for June 10 (“Diesel Exhaust Fluid Shortage a Scary Reality for the Supply Chain, Agriculture”), “DEF is used in all diesel vehicles manufactured since 2010, which includes trucks, tractors, buses, RVs, and other vehicles the world relies on for agriculture production and transportation of people, food and other goods. Although it is only an additive, they are designed to run with DEF; ‘without it, they will not run.’ ”

Shameek Konar is CEO of Pilot/Flying J, America’s largest network of “travel centers” (i.e., truck stops). He told the U.S. Surface Transportation Board at its recent meeting, “Pilot is facing a threat of severe reduction of rail service allocations.... On April 13, we were informed by the Union Pacific that we were required to reduce shipments by 26% and in subsequent conversations we were asked to reduce them even further by 50% or face embargos.”

Transport and tractor shutdowns are thus only a matter of time—or, action for peace on the Westphalia principle.

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