Russian President Vladimir Putin is deliberately targeting farms and supply chains in Ukraine in an attempt to disrupt the global food chain, a European Commissioner has claimed.
After war broke out in February, experts predicted that it would send global food prices soaring. Ukraine is a huge producer of sunflower oil and combined with Russia it produces 30% of global wheat exports.
Moscow has also spent vast amounts of treasure and manpower capturing the port city of Mariupol; prior to the conflict much of Ukraine’s trade left through the Black Sea city and its capture by Russian forces dealt a hammer blow to the country’s ability to get its exports to global markets.
Global food prices are currently almost 30% higher than they were in 2021 and UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has warned that - combined with climate change and the pandemic - the conflict "threatens to tip tens of millions of people over the edge into food insecurity followed by malnutrition, mass hunger and famine".
It is, Commissioner Mairead McGuinness believes, all part of a deliberate strategy by the Kremlin:
“We know that Vladimir Putin is targeting food production, food stores, food producing equipment in his attacks in Ukraine,” Ms McGuinness told The Anton Savage Show.
“He’s hitting farm yards and silos and all of those things and that, in my view, is a deliberate effort to reduce the supply of vital grain for the global market, hitting the most vulnerable and therefore causing disruption and social unrest.”
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Ms McGuinness, who serves as European Commissioner for Financial Services, Financial Stability, and Capital Markets Union, says the bloc is currently working on a sixth package of sanctions and says Europeans have to be prepared that Russia will also stop supplying them with fossils fuels any day now:
“We have to be prepared for every possible scenario,” she warned.
“In one sense we were aware that a war might happen - expected it not to - but we were preparing our sanctions team for example before the start of this year.
“So we have to be mindful that we do not know what goes on in the mind of Vladimir Putin.”
Former US Presidential candidate John McCain once quipped that “Russia is a gas station masquerading as a country” and the country is a huge exporter of fossil fuels to European countries.
Moscow has already cut off gas supplies to Finland and experts have warned that if they do the same to the rest of the EU it would almost certainly trigger a deep recession across the continent.
Germany’s Central Bank has predicted that an immediate ban on Russian fossil fuels would cost the country €165bn and a government minister predicted it would mean “mass unemployment, poverty, people who can’t heat their homes, people who run out of petrol”.
Main image: Three old women rummage through a dumpster outside a market. Picture by: Alamy.com