Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba has accused Russia of “gambling with resources like food” and thereby running “a new wave of colonization aiming to reconfigure the global food system and make it more Russia-dependent than ever.”
In a Special Online Briefing with African journalists, the Ukrainian official said Russia has destroyed vast agricultural yields in Ukraine and blocked export routes as a strategy to knock Ukraine’s agricultural products off the global market.
“When Russia started its invasion, it knew perfectly what consequences this will have, not only for Ukraine but for the entire world,” Kuleba said.
“Its relentless naval blockade of our seaports destroys the lives of people far from the battlefield, affecting the global food system previously already weakened by climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic. It is truly horrible that Russia plays hunger games with the world by blocking Ukrainian food exports with one hand and trying to shift the blame on Ukraine with the other,” headed.
Ukraine provides 10 per cent of the world’s wheat, 14 per cent of the world’s corn, and 47 per cent of all sunflower oil on the planet.
A Russian blockade of export routes has had devastating effects on Africa, particularly for big importers like Lybia which imports 44% of its wheat from Ukraine, Tunisia where 42% of its wheat comes from Ukraine and Egypt which gets 26% of its wheat from the same product from Ukraine.
Mr. Kuleba said Russia during the war “deliberately targets our agricultural infrastructure to inflict maximum damage on our food-producing capacity. By doing this, Moscow also deliberately inflicts damage on African states that rely on Ukrainian agricultural exports.”
“Russian missile strikes have already damaged and destroyed many farms, stocks of food and seeds, silos, warehouses, oil deposits, agriculture machinery and equipment. The Russians also steal grain from the temporarily occupied territories in Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson, and Zaporizhzhia regions of Ukraine.”
He claimed that up to 400,000 tons of grain crops have already been stolen as of May.
“Russians also steal agricultural equipment from Ukrainian farmers – tractors, combined harvesters, and other tools in Donetsk, Kherson, Kharkiv, and Sumy regions of Ukraine. “
He further accused Russia of planting mines on agricultural fields to prevent farmers from cultivating their crops; a strategy he said could have multiyear implications for global food security.
“According to the recent preliminary estimate, about 13 per cent of Ukrainian territory has been contaminated by Russian mines and other explosive remnants. This creates threats of a multiyear global food crisis,” he said.
Russia attacked Ukraine on February 24, 2022, with Putin saying he was concerned NATO’s eastward expansion was threatening Russian security. Minister Kubela describes the attack as the “darkest day in Ukraine’s modern history” and said Russia simply wants “to destroy our country, whatever it takes.”