Famine Terrorism: How Russia Uses Hunger As A Weapon


Internally, residents of occupied Ukrainian cities are being subjected to starvation as a result of the Russian invasion. Externally, the war has placed global food security at risk. Here is everything you need to know about Russia’s tactics surrounding food. 


Russia has been systematically violating laws of armed conflict since the beginning of its invasion of Ukraine. A tactic that has become apparent is deliberate deprivation of food and water as well as other essentials. The goal is to force Ukrainian cities to surrender. However, Russia’s tactics extend to global markets. 


Ukraine is the world’s largest sunflower oil supplier. According to the Observatory of Economics, Ukraine accounts for up to 46% of global sunflower oil production, followed by Russia which contributes 23%. Moreover, the two countries combined to produce 25% of all wheat. The war has severely impacted the distribution of these staples, significantly increasing prices. Wheat prices have gone up a third in price since Russia’s invasion.


With a significant proportion of Ukrainian crops being expected to fail this year, Russia banned exports of wheat until the end of June. This leaves many developing countries in an incredibly vulnerable position. UNCTAD reports that Somalia and Benin rely 100% on Ukrainian and/ or Russian wheat imports. The United Nations has warned that 350,000 children in Somalia alone “will perish by the summer” if action isn’t taken.  


Currently, Russian forces occupy ports in Ukraine, making export impossible. The governor of Mykolaiv Oblast, where Russian missiles recently destroyed an agricultural store, claims that Russia is attempting to exacerbate food shortages in order to gain leverage in port reopening negotiations.


While Russia has blamed the grain crisis on sanctions, Ukraine’s Foreign Minister reminds the world that “Russian aggression” is really to blame. 


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