National Security As Food Self-Sufficiency: Russian Official Discourse and Public Sentiments

Monday, 16 July 2018: 17:45
Oral Presentation
Irina TROTSUK, Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration, Russian Federation
The Russian political leadership defines food security primarily by the share of food imports and monetary expenditures on it. The government considers the terms ‘food security’ and ‘self-sufficiency’ to be synonymous, and, thus, food import policies combine government assistance for domestic production with restricting market access for selected imported foods. The situation with food security (and protectionism) became more complicated after August 2014, when Russia’s food embargo was announced as a reaction to the western sanctions, and the government adopted about 900 discriminatory trade measures. According to both the international conventional definition of food security and the Russian political leadership discourse, the vast majority of the Russian population is not food insecure in terms of adequate access to sufficient food. Nevertheless, the government declares the country as food insecure based on food imports, i.e. uses fears about food insecurity to bolster national security and further state interests. The national phone surveys in 2016 and 2017 prove that the ‘grass-root’ interpretations of food security in Russia combine elements of its traditional and politicized definitions and support the ideology of food nationalism. On the one hand, the population feels insecure when considers food prices and one’s abilities to buy food products of good quality and in sufficient amount, i.e. there are evidences of domestic food insecurity due to the household poverty. On the other hand, the population supports the food anti-sanctions: the majority prefer Russian products to the foreign, and believe that Russia should not import foreign food. Such a support is determined by the fact that the western sanctions and Russia’s retaliatory food embargo support the official discourse of self-sufficiency and put additional emphasis on national security as relying on import substitution, i.e. the Kremlin’s narrative on food security with patriotic and autarchic overtones corresponds to popular sentiments.