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War Within the War: The Fight Over Land and Genetically Engineered Agriculture

Ten months before Russian troops poured into Ukraine, that country’s President Volodymyr Zelensky signed a bill into law authorizing the private sale of farmland, reversing a moratorium that had been in place since 2001.

An earlier administration in Ukraine had instituted the moratorium in order to halt further privatization of The Commons and small farms, which were being bought up by oligarchs and concentrated in fewer and fewer hands. As documented in a series of critical reports over ten years by the Oakland Institute based in California, the moratorium on land sales in Ukraine aimed to prevent the acquisition and consolidation of farmland in the hands of the domestic oligarch class and foreign corporations.

The marketization of farmland is part of a series of policy “reforms” that the International Monetary Fund stipulated as a precondition enabling Ukraine to receive $8 billion in loans from the IMF.