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PALLADIUM PANDEMONIUM

Sanctions on Russia could make everything from bread to cars more expensive

A melter foreman works on an ingot of 99.98 percent pure palladium at the Krastsvetmet nonferrous metals plant in Russia's Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk
REUTERS/Ilya Naymushin
Russia is a top exporter of palladium, a key ingredient for car engines. US sanctions could drive up the price.
  • Tim McDonnell
By Tim McDonnell

Climate reporter

Published Last updated

This post was updated on Feb. 22.

The US and its allies are expected to announce new economic sanctions against Russia on Feb. 22, after Russian president Vladimir Putin said he would send “peacekeeping” troops into Ukraine in support of separatists in two regions of the country. The sanctions are likely to target Russia’s major banks. It’s a risky gambit to take against a country whose exports of fossil fuels, metals, wheat, and other key commodities are crucial to many global supply chains; Russia produces 43% of the world’s palladium, for example, a metal crucial for car engines.

Even without targeting those industrial sectors directly, analysts fear, financial sanctions would likely dampen exports at a time when supplies for most commodities are already constrained, inflation is rising, and prices are already high. Prices for several of Russia’s most important exports are already much higher than they were before the pandemic.

The more Russia presses into Ukraine, the more economic pain will be shared widely beyond Russia’s borders.

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