Stock Groups

Russia is weaponizing food supplies to ‘blackmail the world’


A missile strike that claimed the life of an elderly lady in Druzhkivka in Donbas, Ukraine, left debris behind.

AFP – Getty Images| AFP | Getty Images

Russian airstrikes targeted a Ukrainian railcar repair plant in Kyiv’s freight railway sector on Sunday, one week after Russian President Vladimir PutinIn the face of a growing global food crisis and a worsening inflation, Ukraine promised to allow grain exports from Ukraine.

The latest attacks on the railcar factory — reportedly used to transport goods such as grain — have raised questions over the possibility Moscow could weaponize the supply of food. It will also exacerbate global food insecurity caused by disruptions to supply chains and climate change.

Many analysts concur with statements made by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken that Russian President Vladimir Putin was “blackmailing” the worldWhile he took food supplies hostage in his war strategy to eliminate sanctions, others claimed that the West had gone too far to blame Putin for Ukraine.

Orysia Lutsevych, manager of the Ukraine Forum in the Russia and Eurasia Programme at Chatham House said the Russian leadership was a “mastermind of creating problems and blaming them on others.”

The rising demand for grain will lead to them playing heavy and blackmailing the rest of the world.

Orysia Lutevych

Chatham House, Ukraine Forum Manager

Lutsevych stated that Putin has said before that sanctions should be lifted to permit safe passage for grain from the West and allow more Russian grains to reach international markets. Due to the rising demand for grain and increased risks of starvation, “Yes,” Lutsevych said.

Frederick Kliem, from the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, sees things differently.

Parts of the West media and elites in politics are determined to discredit and isolate Putin whenever possible. While an understandable motive, the issue of food shortages should be seen in that light,” Kleim told CNBC.

Bombing Kyiv

The Russian defense ministry confirmed that Russian Aerospace forces had destroyed the military machinery, including T-72 tanks and armored vehicles in the Kyiv facility.

CNBC spoke with a representative of the Russian Embassy in Singapore. He said that Ukrainian soldiers use industrial buildings to conceal their stockpiles or repair weapons.

The However, Alexander Kamyshin is the CEO of Ukrainian Railways state-owned. He stated that no such equipment was on the ground. 

Russians bombarded Kyiv’s railcar-repairing plant in Kyiv today; they claimed to have targeted tanks. [in]Our factory. That’s [a] lie,” Kamyshin said on Twitter

We don’t own any military machinery [in]our factory. Only railcars for freight that allow us to export iron ore, grain, and other commodities.

Russian diplomat cautioned about the dangers of using social media comments. They also stated that Russian troops in Ukraine “operate with the utmost control and don’t intentionally attack civilian targets, which are not being used by the Ukrainian Armed Forces for military purposes.”

This March the UN said civilians were “killed and maimed in what appear to be indiscriminate attacks, with Russian forces using explosive weapons with wide area effects in or near populated areas.”

Satellite imagesMoscow claimed that Bucha’s graphic images showing civilians were staged. This was previously refuted by Moscow.

CNBC couldn’t independently confirm statements by the two sides.

The West is just trying to paint Russian actions, however deplorable they are, as an attempt to accelerate a food shortage.

Frederick Kliem

RSIS Research Fellow

It is important to note that Russia and Ukraine were major international exporters of wheat and other grains. Accordingly to the United Nations, the conflict in Ukraine and its subsequent curtailment had contributed significantly towards the current global food crisis, which was threatening many people in Africa and the Middle East.

The International Monetary Fund saidThe world faced a “confluence” of disasters.

“Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has compounded the Covid-19 pandemic — a crisis upon a crisis —devastating lives, dragging down growth, and pushing up inflation,” the IMF said in a note late last month.

According to UN, agriculture is not only the heart of Ukraine’s economic, but it provides food for more than 400 million people worldwide.  

Russia to blame

Russia launches attacks against key seaports such as Ukraine’s Odessa and Mariupol earlier in the crisisThese companies have already stopped container and trade movements through the Black Sea that transport food in the region. They also stop trapping food cargo at those locations. 

Lutsevych claims that Russia has not only crippled Ukraine’s ability to export grains, but also blames Ukraine for “mining” or planting floating mines at open sea.

Certain segments of Western society have tried to isolate Russia because it acted aggressively on Ukraine. Kliem, multilateralism research fellow at RSIS Singapore, said that they are now trying to put Russia under the microscope.

He pointed out that although the Ukraine crisis has increased supply issues for food and fertilizer but these problems existed long before the conflict began. After the lockdowns caused by still-disrupted supply chain and driving up prices, demand rose for all goods, including food.

Kleim stated that Russian actions, however deplorable they are, were used as propaganda to create a crisis and even a famine.

He claimed that it was not reasonable to suppose Putin’s motivations were motivated by “morbid cynicism”, especially considering the fact that wealthier nations had contributed to the food crisis by taking over staples on the market, pricing poorer countries out.

Even worse, there is a large number of professional investors who are speculating on basic foodstuffs as well as crude oil. He said that this is the true outrage.

Putin was following the classic war handbook.

Rahul Mishra

University of Malaya, European Studies Programme

Rahul Mishra (Coordinator, European Studies Program) at the University of Malaya stated that “the weaponization of food or other commodities is not an uncommon phenomenon in war conditions.” “Putin was adhering to the traditional war handbook.”

We must remember that sanctions imposed on Russia by the U.S. without considering the long-term consequences and the possibility of securing other agricultural supplies and reserves are not the right decision.

Putin denies it

Putin denied that the Russia-Ukraine conflict caused the world’s food crisis. Instead, he blamed the pandemic for food insecurity and high prices as well as the U.S. government and European countries who fuelled price inflation with excessive stimuli.

Putin spoke out in an interview to local media about the attacks days prior.

The Donbass region includes the Donetsk and Luhansk provinces in southeastern Ukraine, which is largely under Russian separatist control.

“The global economic situation was in decline during efforts to fight the coronavirus epidemic, which took place from February 2020 to March 2021. It had to be resurrected.”

Putin stated that price inflation was also caused by the U.S., and other countries, pumping money into their economies in order to stimulate consumption. 

Russia had not prevented Ukraine shipping grain to Russia, despite the fact that sea routes are not available. He insisted that Ukraine has many options for land transportation.