How the Russian invasion of Ukraine is more likely to push up meals costs and vitality payments in London

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Kyiv may be 1,500 miles from London, but what’s happening in Ukraine is likely to send shock waves right through to our capital. Experts have told MyLondon the city is likely to be hit by higher energy prices, food prices and even cyberattacks.

Professor Mark Galeotti, from UCL’s School of Slavonic & East European Studies, said: “We are all connected. What happens in Ukraine will have an impact here in London on market volatility, food and energy prices and pension funds.”

And Anam Rahman, supply chain expert and CEO of tech company Kavida.ai, said the crisis will have a “huge impact” on the cost of living in London. “The cost of living in the UK will increase as demand for various goods increases due to limited supply,” Mr Rahman said.

The UK is closely linked to Ukraine through food imports, which poses a risk of large price increases. Mr Rahman added: “London’s food prices, energy prices and higher costs for essential household electronics such as ovens, microchips and mobile phones will also be affected.”

READ MORE: Sadiq Khan wants ‘toughest sanctions’ on Putin allies in London as Russia invades Ukraine

Black smoke billows from a military airport in Chuguyev near Kharkiv this morning as Russia launches its invasion of Ukraine

“Ukraine is a major agricultural exporter, particularly of grain,” added Prof. Galeotti. “Any disruption will drive up prices, which will affect grains and other crops that we import, as well as products from other countries that import from Ukraine.” Mr Rahman said he expected the cost of food will increase “shoot up” here in the coming months as corn and wheat prices are affected.

And although the UK imports less than 5 percent of Russia’s gas and oil, any military action will disrupt the EU’s supply of Russian gas, leading to global shortages and rising prices and demand. “Londoners may not be able to get or afford the petrol they need to get to the supermarket,” Mr Rahman said. Precious metals, gases and agricultural products are also likely to face shortages, which will hit the UK supply chain.

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Prof. Galeotti reiterated concerns about energy prices. He said: “If something happens to pipelines going through Ukraine, it will have a significant impact on supplies. We don’t use Russian oil or gas – but it will affect global prices.

“Russia could mess up the offer. That drives up prices, with more profits for Russia.” Professor Andrew Wilson of UCL’s School of Slavonic & East European Studies said Russia has already “driven up oil and gas prices”.

However, Londoners have less to fear from Russian sanctions against Great Britain than vice versa. Prof Wilson said it is largely the super-rich who are hit by sanctions. He explained: “Oligarchs have their privileges, including their children at British [public] Schools. You are prominent and an easy target. The impact of Russian sanctions on us would be much more indirect for Britain.”

Sanctions on Russian-owned property in London will have little impact on house prices for ordinary people, MyLondon has been told.

However, cyberattacks pose a risk for Londoners. Prof Galeotti said Russia’s sophisticated cyber operation could hit London’s infrastructure. “Russia’s hackers have their hands full with other targets of their choice,” he said.

“It’s not like in the movies – like London is going out of power. But there will be attacks, leading to times when online banking systems are down and government websites are under attack. It will be more of an irritation than anything.”

British media could also be hit by sanctions, albeit subtly. Officials are considering a ban on Russia Today (RT UK), which some see as the Kremlin’s mouthpiece. Both UCL experts warned against a ban, with Prof Galeoti saying: “If RT were thrown out of the UK, the BBC would be thrown out of Russia. The BBC’s footprint is massively larger than RT’s here. And a lot of people accessing RT here are accessing it online – it wouldn’t be affected by a broadcast ban.”

The Eastern Europe expert added that the short-term effects of the war will be “felt”. But he added: “That’s the price we pay for not being more muscular. We don’t want to see British soldiers in Ukraine.”

According to Transparency International, between 2016 and 2021 more than £1.5 billion worth of British property was bought by Russians accused of corruption or ties to the Kremlin, most of it in London. The nearly £430m value is in the City of Westminster, while £283m is in Kensington and Chelsea.

In London this morning (Thursday, February 24), Sadiq Khan called for devastating sanctions against Putin’s Russian allies after the Russian president launched a “full-scale attack” on Ukraine. The Mayor of London opened his speech to the London Assembly by calling the Russian invasion of Ukraine a “dark day”.

Josiah joined MyLondon in October 2021 as the outlet’s first Town Hall Editor, reporting on the Mayor, the London Assembly, the Met Police, Transport for London and general London politics.

He moved to south London from Brussels in 2015, working in communications for the Electoral Reform Society and covering Westminster politics as a freelance journalist. Originally from Cornwall, he’s now a proud Londoner too. Josiah has appeared on BBC Radio 4, Times Radio, LBC and other stations to discuss current affairs and general political chaos.

If you have an untold story – be it a housing nightmare, an unfair decision or a local scandal, reach out to [email protected] or reach out to Josiah on Twitter.

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