As the Ukrainian border descends into chaos and citizens flee for safety, senseless loss of life won't be the only casualty of the conflict; the supply chain will also suffer a blow, as many logistics firms are halting business operations in the war-torn region and prices are climbing.

From the likes of UPS and FedEx to A.P. Moller-Maersk, several shipping companies have announced they will not be engaging in traditional business activities in portions of Eastern Europe for the foreseeable future.

"In light of the current circumstances, FedEx and TNT services will be temporarily suspended in and out of Ukraine until further notice," FedEx advised in a press release obtained by Supply Chain Dive. Shipments already in transit will be temporarily held in our network."

UPS and Moller-Maersk have made similar pronouncements, stating that the ongoing circumstances in Ukraine, Russia and Belarus have made servicing the region untenable.

Several high-demand products come from Ukraine and Russia
The knock-on effects of stopped shipments are set to be considerable. Aside from the fact that these three logistics firms are responsible for transporting a substantial portion of all the items that manufacturers — as well as customers — depend on for their needs, Russia and the Ukraine are major exporting nations, whose resources are important to various production processes. For example, Russia is a major exporter of crude oil, the country of origin for approximately 8% of the world's supply, according to Al Jazeera. Russia is also the United States' second-largest supplier of oil among foreign countries. Ukraine, meanwhile, has a prosperous agricultural sector, exporting ingredients and staple products found or used in breakfast cereals, cooking oils and meat sections at grocery stores.

Oil prices are skyrocketing due in part to what's happening in Eastern Europe.Oil prices are skyrocketing due in part to what's happening in Eastern Europe.

Dwindling vegetable oil supply levels appears to have contributed to a 4.2% jump in the Vegetable Oils Price Index, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. That's an all-time high for the measure. 

Boubaker Ben-Belhassen, director of markets and trade division for the FAO, said the price spike is attributable to several factors, including bad weather and not enough people to fill open jobs.

Economy runs on oil 
Another supply chain complication is the centrality oil plays in global commerce. While the most direct impact of oil is on the cost of gasoline, oil is used in everything from plastics to solvents to furniture and toys. When there's less of it — or the perception of a shortage exists — prices go up for just about everything.

And the longer the occupation lasts, the worse the supply chain pain will get, according to Koray Kose and Sam New, who work as senior analysts for the advisory firm Gartner.

"We expect severe shortages of hydrocarbon, critical minerals, metals and energy," the analysts warned. "Prices for those items will likely spike, thanks to both the shortages and behaviors such as irrational buying and protectionism."

As for what supply chain managers can do to mitigate the effects, New and Kose recommended diversifying both sourcing and logistics routes as much as possible and taking the advanced steps necessary to respond to inventory issues as they present themselves.

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