Hypersonic missiles, phosphorus bombs, nuclear warheads: the Russian arsenal is large and destructive. Now President Vladimir Putin (69) has drawn another insidious weapon: hunger.
In Ukraine, the Russians are deliberately holding back 20 million tons of grain – most of it in the port city of Odessa. German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock (41) accuses the Kremlin of using the blockade of grain exports as a weapon of war.
Baerbock said on Wednesday in New York (USA): “By blocking Ukrainian ports, destroying silos, roads and railways and especially farmers’ fields, Russia has started a grain war that is fueling a global food crisis.”
Dependent on Ukrainian exports
The blockade affects the poorest people worldwide. “Countries such as Egypt, Kenya, South Sudan, Lebanon and many other countries have so far been directly or indirectly heavily dependent on Russian and Ukrainian exports,” said Welthungerhilfe Secretary General Mathias Mogge (58). “These countries are now not receiving the quantities ordered or have to pay much more for it.”
Somalia, which has been experiencing an exceptional drought for the past two years, is also particularly affected. Somalia’s Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble (58) recently told Blick in a conversation about the Ukraine war: “The world has forgotten us. We’re expecting a famine.”
It is not the first time that Moscow has used hunger as a deadly weapon. In 1932/33 the Soviets plundered the fields and houses in Ukraine. The Ukrainian population suffered from a gigantic famine, there was even cannibalism.
Depending on the estimate, three to seven million people died of hunger at the time. The Ukrainians are now campaigning for the so-called Holodomor (“murder by hunger”) to be recognized as a genocide.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres (73) calls on Russia to bring the extremely important grain producer Ukraine back onto the world market – as well as food and fertilizers produced by Russia and Belarus. The war Russia started threatens to plunge tens of millions of people into food insecurity and trigger a crisis “that could last for years”.
Together, Ukraine and Russia produce nearly a third of the world’s wheat and barley and half of the world’s sunflower oil, according to Guterres.
More on the impending global famine
According to Welthungerhilfe, “deliberate starvation” is not a new phenomenon. “It is a practice that was particularly widespread in the Middle Ages,” writes the organization in its specialist journal. What is new, however, is that this practice is being used in current conflicts – for example in Myanmar, Syria and South Sudan – and is responsible for the recurrence of famine and the increase in world hunger.
Putin criticizes West: “Sanctions are the main reason for the world crisis”(01:49)
Millions of children face death
According to the United Nations, global hunger has reached a new high: “In just two years, the number of people with severe food insecurity has doubled, from 135 million before the pandemic to 276 million today,” said Guterres. More than half a million people are at risk of starvation – five times more than in 2016. In addition to Corona, the climate crisis and finally the Ukraine war have recently aggravated the situation.
On Thursday, World Vision declared the “highest level of disaster” due to the global hunger crisis. “Millions of children are acutely malnourished and could starve to death in the next few weeks,” the organization wrote in a statement.
It is up to Putin to alleviate the misery by quickly releasing the blocked food.