Russia's war in Ukraine has 'turbocharged' decline in world peace, report says

The warring countries recorded the largest deteriorations in the 2022 Global Peace Index

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Global Peace Index 2022:: The 10 safest and most dangerous countries in the world

Russia's conflict in Ukraine has exposed the fragility of world food supplies and has had a severe impact on peace and the economy, a report said.

Peacefulness was down by 0.3 per cent from last year in the latest Global Peace Index, the third consecutive year of decline.

Ukraine recorded the largest deterioration for the 2022 index, falling 17 places from last year to sit at 153.

Of the 163 countries ranked, Russia and Ukraine were two of the five countries with the largest deteriorations in peacefulness. Russia dropped five places, to 160.

“Global peace is at the lowest level since the inception of the Global Peace Index in 2008,” Steve Killelea, founder of the report, told The National.

“Recent numbers on food insecurity [show] there's 49 million people facing starvation. That's up 25 per cent on six months ago. When we look at people facing extreme poverty, it sits at 1.1 billion. That's up 40 per cent on six months ago.”

There are countries in Africa that bought close to 100 per cent of their wheat and grain from Ukraine and Russia, which the UN says were the “world's breadbaskets” before the war disrupted supplies and led to sanctions on Moscow.

Food prices have risen sharply and many face starvation. Even major African food producers have struggled to buy fertiliser from Russia, one of the biggest suppliers.

“When you combine this with the background conditions that we have got at the moment, like the highest inflation in 40 years, global increases in food prices and further disruption to supply chains for a whole range of different products, the future situation, when looking at peace, is precarious to say the least,” Mr Killelea said.

“This is the real offshoot from the Ukraine war.”

Global Peace Index — in pictures

Of the 23 indicators measured in the index, 10 showed improvement while 13 — including political terrorism, political instability and relationships with neighbouring countries — pointed to a deterioration.

Mr Killelea said relations between many countries in Eastern Europe have suffered as a consequence of the war, affecting nations close to Russia such as Romania, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

But even without the war, he said there would have been a deterioration in peacefulness, although less severe.

“We had a whole range of other issues going on. Violent demonstrations are up 45 per in the last decade, and we can see that is a trend which is just creeping up and increasing,” he said.

“And if we start to look at the background conditions, which would have been there anyway but were turbocharged by the Ukrainian war, inflation is one of them.

“Food prices have been increasing each year since 2014 and it was creating more hardship for people. The war has turbocharged some of those things.”

As one of the major exporters of grain, Ukraine farmers are stuck with more than 20 million tonnes of stock that they cannot move.

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, transporting the crops has become a logistical problem, resulting in rising food costs and the threat of hunger.

And as the war continues, Mr Killelea said peacefulness could dwindle over the next two years as attention is focused on other issues.

“When we look at the Ukraine war, it is going to have an impact on a whole range of different things globally,” he said.

“As we move into tighter economic conditions, governments are probably going to have less money for aid. They will prioritise Ukraine over places like Africa, which have got real and pressing issues [with food security and high rates of internally displaced people].

“I think what we can see with the Ukraine war is that the economics of war are crazy and do not make sense.

“We can see the massive destruction which it has caused in Ukraine, but in Russia we can also see the economic losses there from the invasion and the flow-on effects to other parts of the world.

“While these are terrible circumstances, I think people are realising that there are no economic gains from war, that wars are, economically, just crazy.”

A snapshot of the global state of peace

Global peacefulness has deteriorated in 11 of the 14 years since the index was launched.

This year, Europe remains the most peaceful region and is home to four of the five most peaceful countries — Iceland, Ireland, Denmark and Austria.

Iceland is the most peaceful country, a position it has held since the inception of the index. Afghanistan remains the least peaceful country, a position it has held for the past five years.

The five countries with the largest deteriorations were Ukraine, Guinea, Burkina Faso, Russia and Haiti, while the five countries with the biggest improvements were Libya, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the Philippines and Algeria.

In the past year, 90 countries recorded improvements in peacefulness while 71 recorded deteriorations.

The index ranks countries on their state of peace based on 23 indicators, marking them as very high, high, medium, low and very low.

Updated: July 13, 2022, 7:10 AM