The one-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion – or in the words of Kremlin leaders, “special military operation” – has left thousands dead or wounded, scores of buildings and infrastructure destroyed or damaged, and millions of people displaced. The economic damage from the war reaches far beyond the borders of Ukraine and Russia. Worldwide, inflation is rising, nations are seeing either fuel and/or food shortages, or sky-rocketing prices, and massive economic pressure on countries where Ukrainian civilians have fled to for sanctuary.

Virginia Tech economist Djavad Salehi-Isfahani says there are other worries that are not making headlines around the world or attracting the attention of Ukrainian allies.

Developing countries

“The plight of the poor countries is not getting enough attention. As they were trying to come back off the setback due to Covid, they were shocked with higher energy and food prices. Poverty rates have risen in developing countries across continents, when the attention and foreign aid of the rich countries are focused on Ukraine,” Salehi-Isfahani said.

Iran’s nuclear deal

“Another issue that has been pushed off the front page is the plight of Iran’s nuclear deal. The war has drawn Iran into the conflict on the side of Russia, making it very difficult for U.S. and Europe to sit down with Iran,” Salehi-Isfahani said. “Iran is under sanctions while at the same time is enriching uranium that concerns Western powers. Western concern is about Iran developing a nuclear bomb, which would destabilize the Middle East. Negotiations stopped about a year ago, in part because Iran sided with Russia (Iran denies this). Failure to solve the standoff – remove sanctions in return for Iran limiting nuclear enrichment – increases the risk of military conflict in the region.”

About Dr. Salehi-Isfahani

Djavad Salehi-Isfahani is an economics professor in the College of Science at Virginia Tech and a research fellow at the Economic Research Forum (ERF) in Cairo. His research focuses on demographic economics, energy economics, and the economics of the Middle East. A native of Iran, he most recently served as a visiting scholar at the Middle East Initiative at the Harvard Kennedy School.  

Salehi-Isfahani has been quoted by CNBC, The Washington Post, NPR, and more media outlets.

Schedule an interview

To secure a live or recorded interview with Djavad Salehi-Isfahani, contact Margaret Ashburn in the media relations office at or by phone at 540-529-0814 or Steven Mackay of the College of Science at or 540-739-9434.

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