THE BLOG

Food, Spies & Sanctions

19/08/2014 13:59 BST | Updated 18/10/2014 10:59 BST

Now that it is not considered embarrassing to watch professional wrestling anymore, you may wonder, like myself, why WWE has gone with a storyline which places a Cold War setting between America and Russia, using Jack Swagger and Aleksander Rusev. The simple reason is that it does pull in a global audience, with both nations extremely patriotic.

However, if a real life situation arises, then will it be proceeded with? Russia has not been happy with the Western world over their own actions in Ukraine, as rebels have taken over the Eastern side of the country. One of the reasons Russia has reacted with the food ban is due to their own diabolical handling of MH17, which was shot down in a rebel stronghold. Medics were not allowed access into the area, and when access was made masked rebels refused to help with proceedings. Furthermore, with missing bodies still unaccounted for, it was felt the EU had to act with economic sanctions.

Yet why a food ban? Quite simply, it will hurt the EU nations, and far more severely than any sanction that has been imposed on Russia by the EU so far. A good example already is Greece, who are paying massive interest rates after their bailout. The Hellenic Statistical Authority figures show Russia is Greece's biggest trading partner outside the EU with total turnover exceeding €5.7 billion in 2013. This has already struck the Northern region of Greece. Apostolos Keranis, head of the Federation of Greek truckers, has already claimed 3.5 million kilos of peaches are "rotting in trucks" with the same number yet to be harvested. Already Greece is asking the EU to drop its sanctions.

Other nations will be hit hard by Russia's import ban. Germany, Poland and the Netherlands will be hit the hardest, with Poland expecting a substantial loss in the sale of apples. They were the top 3 food suppliers to Russia last year. Out of Germany's exports to Russia, 3.3% is food. French Agriculture Minister Stephane Le Foll has said his government is already working together with Germany and Poland to reach a "coordinated policy" on the new Russian sanction regime. Ireland is additionally claiming they will lose revenues of up to 4.5 billion Euros worth of cheese. The Scandinavian and Baltic regions are also worried about potential losses, with some farmers demanding government compensation due to their loss of income.

However, by doing this Russia has given an opportunity to its domestic market to feed her own nation. Its citizens may prefer to have French cheese instead of the Crimea, but its agriculture may grow from these particular sanctions. The one worry though is Russia could potentially starve her own people. Maybe pessimistic (extremely) but Russian agriculture has not developed much over the past 100 years. The Russian Revolution was fuelled by famine, as well as war and poor sanitary conditions, with a hatred of the Tsar. In St Petersburg and Moscow, the people put up with the struggle for food and clothes for two years before eventually turning on their rulers, angry at their situation in WW1 with no weapons, food or money. The Russian Government was also riddled with corruption which flamed rage inside the Russian peasant.

Nonetheless it seems poor railway communications halted Russian progression and the end of the Romanovs. The Russian diet may not be a problem when you think of the way agriculture works in the region. Fruit and vegetables are regularly imported due to the harsh Russian climate. Yet, their farming has a focus on protein. With parts of Russia reaching -40 Fahrenheit there is a big focus on long lasting cold weather crops and many dishes are high in fats and carbohydrates, but is needed due to the bitter coldness. On the contrary, some dishes look healthier than some Western dishes.

So Russia could cope, and the EU will be affected. But seemingly not the USA. However, little notice has been paid to Edward Snowden, the whistle-blower and current rector of Glasgow University, who has been granted a 3 year stay in Russia, and will not be extradited back to America. Examining the mirrors of the Revolution, Snowden is no Rasputin. Whereas Rasputin influenced the Tsar's wife with religion and autonomous ideas, much to the scepticism of the Tsar, and was hated by the public, Snowden is used as a political tool for exposing the NSA programs that reportedly spy on the masses. One of which is MonsterMind.

MonsterMind is a program designed in the US by NSA which neutralises foreign cyber-attacks instantly and effectively. So far so good. The information received however, may cause immediate retaliation attacks against the offender. Snowden has claimed this could involve innocent third nations, who have caused no damage. In his example, he said a cyber-program could originate in China, but could be believed it originates in Russia, depending on how intelligent hackers are. This could cause wars and cause innocent casualties to die in their millions. In a Wired interview, Snowden added algorithms would scour massive repositories of metadata and analyse it to differentiate normal network traffic from anomalous or malicious traffic. In other words, if an attack occurred it would be neutralised, much like Regan's threat of unleashing a nuclear bomb if one was sent to America.

Tensions are at the highest they have been in years between Russia, the EU and the USA. The food blockade imposed by Russia will definitely have an impact on the EU, which Russia does not trust, whilst the Snowden situation will further antagonise right-wing Americans. Food will feed the brain, but also the soldier. It remains unclear if Russia herself will cope with their new supply and demand. However, her asylum to Snowden has caused some irony. He is barred from the "Land of the Free," but allowed free movement in a self-censored state, with access to key government information.

In regards to this, who is the face? And who is the heel?