Ukrainian officials have accused Russian forces of “robbing” wheat from parts of the country they have occupied, a move which increases the threat to global food security.
The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry said in a statement reported by Reuters: “The looting of grain from the Kherson region, as well as the blocking of shipments from Ukrainian ports and the mining of shipping lanes, threaten the world’s food security.”
The ministry demanded that Russia stops “the illegal theft of grain, unblock Ukrainian ports, restore freedom of navigation and allow the passage of merchant ships.”
Through its illegal actions, Russia is robbing not only Ukraine but also consumers abroad.”
“The United Nations estimates that about 1.7 billion people may face poverty and hunger due to food disruptions as a result of a full-scale war waged by Russia against Ukraine,” the ministry added.
Asked about the allegations by Reuters, the Kremlin said it had no information on the matter.
The General Staff of Ukraine’s Armed Forces also claimed Friday that Russian troops were “robbing” wheat stocks, as heavy fighting continues in the country’s eastern and southern regions.
“The Russian occupiers are robbing the villagers,” said the General Staff. “Thus, for example, over 60 tons of wheat together with the cargo trucks were stolen from the agricultural cooperative in the town of Kamianka-Dniprovska.”
CNN is unable to verify these allegations independently.
Ivan Fedorov, mayor of the southern city of Melitopol, which has been held by Russian troops for weeks, also spoke about the removal of grain stocks.
“Today it has moved to an industrial scale,” he said. “Yesterday we published a video of a convoy of 50+ cars with trailers taking grain out of our occupied territories … And today we do not know where they sent it.”
The area around Melitopol produces substantial cereal crops.
The wheat crisis: Ukraine is known as the “breadbasket of Europe,” and is a key source of wheat and corn — especially for countries in the Middle East and North Africa that depend on imports. The likely wholesale disruption of its harvest this year could be a disaster, leaving these countries in short supply — and driving up prices for important agricultural goods.
Live updates: Russia’s war in Ukraine