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Ukraine war disrupts key supply chains

It can be hard to measure the ways that Russia’s war in Ukraine has disrupted the international supply of parts and raw materials needed to complete a variety of products – from cars to computer chips.

But cutting off one of those supply links brought a “depressing feeling” to Andrey Bibik, head of the Interpipe steel plant in Dnipro, Ukraine. He spent the first hours of the war winding down his bustling 24-hour operation and sending almost everyone home.

Read Metal costs soar with Russian supplies at risk

“It’s empty and lonely. You don’t hear a sound. You see everything is frozen,” he said.

Getting Interpipe’s steel transmission pipes to Texas oil companies and its railway wheels to European high-speed train operators has been put on hold. Hundreds of the plant’s roughly 10,000 employees have joined the fight against Russia. Others have fled; a remaining skeleton crew runs its canteens and makes spikey metal obstacles to block Russian tanks and convoys. Its bomb shelters house dozens of local families at night.

“It was a hard choice to stop production. We had plenty of orders, a lot of customers awaiting our material. But if you have to choose between safety, and possible profits, I think the answer is obvious,” said Bibik, who’s worked at the company for nearly two decades. “The most important thing we have is life and we really need to take care of the people we love.”

Similar production halts have spread across other industries in Ukraine, motivated not just by safety concerns but also because the war and mass exodus of refugees have closed off roads and railways to commercial freight traffic. Some of Interpipe’s finished products bound for overseas export are now stalled at the Black Sea port of Odesa.

Ukraine accounts for only about 0.3% of the world’s exports, while Russia’s share is about 1.9%, according to a report by the Dutch bank ING. Still, some industries doing business with these nations are starting to feel the war’s impact.

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For Russia, a key producer of energy, steel and raw metals such as nickel, copper, platinum and palladium — many of which are important to the auto industry — the supply concerns are tied to punishing Western economic sanctions and Russia’s moves to retaliate against them. For Ukraine, the war itself is cutting off supplies.

War in Ukraine disrupts key supply chains – and lives  The Associated Press – en Español

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