‘Outright robbery’ Putin ‘stealing Ukrainian farmer’s grain’ to ‘starve world’s poorest’

Ukraine: US and UK supplies are not enough says Inna Sovsun

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A Ukrainian think tank has made the claim of a latest war atrocity from Putin, saying he appears to be taking advantage of the growing food crisis partly created by his invasion of Ukraine. The Centre for Defence Strategies add that the invaders are destroying or stealing hundreds of thousands of tonnes of grain – estimated to be 600,000. They also claim the invaders are preventing it being transported to areas still under Ukrainian control, effectively using hunger as a war weapon.

A Ukrainian defence intelligence source said that President Putin’s port blockade was “deepening the global food crisis”.

“He is blackmailing wealthy countries that are helping Ukraine overcome Russian aggression by starving the world’s poorest regions.”

EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell said Russia’s port blockade in Ukraine, similarly halting the transport of grain, was a war crime.

European foreign ministers are reportedly looking to find alternative export routes via Hungary, Romania and Poland.

The Ukrainian think tank referenced a report from the country’s ministry of defence which found that Russian soldiers had forced farmers into giving “70 percent of the harvest to buyers from Crimea at a price of about 10 percent retail”.

Ukraine’s agriculture minister Mykola Solskyi said in April that he had heard of this happening across the country.

He said: “I personally hear this from many silo owners in the occupied territory.

“This is outright robbery. And this is happening everywhere in occupied territory.”

Earlier this week a report from the New York Times stated that the United States sent an alert to 14 countries, mostly in Africa, about Russian cargo vessels loaded with what the State Department described as “stolen Ukrainian grain”.

According to the report, the cable identified three vessels by name it said were suspected of transporting it.

Kyiv’s ambassador to Ankara, Vasyl Bodnar, said: “Russia is shamelessly stealing Ukrainian grains and getting them out from the invaded Crimea.

“These grains are being shipped to foreign countries, including Turkey.

“We have made our appeal for Turkey to help us and, upon the suggestion of the Turkish side, are launching criminal cases regarding those stealing and selling the grain.”

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The Times quoted a Ukrainian intelligence source accusing the Kremlin of “returning to the tactics of the Holodomor”.

This references the Great Famine of the early 1930s, during which Joseph Stalin seized farms and exported much of the country’s produce.

The strategy caused the deaths of millions of Ukrainians.

Political analyst Mattia Nelles said: “Once again hunger is used as a weapon. We see the same playbook of repression that we know so well from the Soviet Union.”

The damage to Ukraine’s agriculture as a result of the invasion is estimated to be $4.3billion, according to the Centre for Food and Land Use Research at the Kyiv School of Economics.

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