Total confidence and stubborn defiance – these are the two clear and unequivocal messages coming out of Russia this week. Russians can make these claims with complete confidence because their foundation lies in the deep black earths of the country’s richest and most fertile agricultural plains – the Russian Steppe.

The record yields of this year’s second in-a-row bumper wheat harvest were replicated in all other Russian crops. Small-scale peasant farms and private plots occupy only 20% of Russia’s farmland. But traditionally they have always accounted for over 60% of Russia’s total agricultural production. This year, their contribution is likely to be nearer to 70% of domestic food supply.