Russia and Ukraine combined supplied more than a quarter of the world’s pre-war wheat consumption. The regions around the Black Sea have been dubbed the “breadbasket of the world” due to their high grain production and fertile soil.
As the conflict continues to escalate, shipments are blocked and food shortages are constantly increasing.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky had earlier announced the need for weapons to respond to the Russian blockade in the Black Sea.
According to President Zelensky, if the blockade is allowed to continue, 75 million tons of grain could end up stuck in Ukraine by the fall.
The Kremlin denied preventing the export of millions of tons of grain from the ports of Ukraine.
According to the US State Department, Russia blames the West and Ukraine for global food shortages in a “massive disinformation campaign” targeting primarily the regions most affected by the crisis – the Middle East and Africa.
These two regions get more than half of their wheat from Ukraine.
Previously, Yale University historian Timothy Snyder said that President Putin may be planning to use famine in other countries as part of his war tactics in Ukraine, trying to use it as a “backdrop for a propaganda contest.”
“When the food riots start, and as the famine spreads, Russian propaganda will blame Ukraine, call for recognition of Russia’s territorial gains in Ukraine, and lift all sanctions,” Professor Snyder said.
In what the US State Department reported on Wednesday, it appears the professor was definitely on the right track.
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“This disinformation is intended to mask Russia’s guilt and persuade leaders of countries at risk to support an end to sanctions designed to stop Russia’s brutal and unjust war in Ukraine,” the report said.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov delivered a speech on Africa Day on May 25 where he urged African officials to demand the lifting of sanctions over food insecurity.
“The Russian government should stop arming food and allow Ukraine to safely ship its grain so that millions of hungry people in the Middle East and Africa can be fed,” the report added.