Thursday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken accused Russia of using hunger as a weapon of war against Ukraine and endangering other nations with its blockade on agricultural exports from Ukraine.
"The Russian government appears to believe that using food as a weapon will help achieve what its invasion has not," Blinken said during a meeting of the UN Security Council, adding that the supply of food to millions of Ukrainians and others is now essentially a "hostage" of the Russian military.
Blinken accused Moscow of routinely preventing the delivery of food and other essentials to inhabitants in besieged cities and damaging food storage facilities.
"Moscow alone is responsible for the decision to weaponize food," Blinken stated. As a result of the activities of the Russian government, some 20 million tons of grain lay unused in Ukrainian silos as global food supplies decline and prices climb, triggering an increase in food insecurity around the world.
He stated that Russia is flagrantly breaching the Security Council resolution that condemns this type of war tactic. This is the most recent instance of a government that induces famine among civilians to achieve its goals.
In addition, he observed that the Ukrainians are not the only ones experiencing the effects of the war, as the fighting is driving food prices to skyrocket and exacerbating the global hunger crisis that was already affecting several nations.
Blinken, who chaired a ministerial meeting on this topic on Wednesday, demanded once more that Russia stop blocking the ports in the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov so that Ukraine can export the millions of tons of grains it has stored, which are essential to reducing hunger in many regions of Africa and the Middle East.
In addition, he alleged that Moscow threatened to restrict its food and fertilizer supplies to nations that opposed its incursion.
In this regard, he insisted that the sanctions imposed on Russia by the United States and its allies are in no way preventing Russian sales of these products, and he stated that Washington is working every day with its interlocutors to make it clear that they have no qualms about continuing to allow these imports.
In response to the US official's comments, Russia's ambassador to the United Nations, Vasily Nebenzia, virtually refuted all Blinken's claims as "absolutely false."
Concerning the alleged weeks-long blockade on the entry of food into besieged cities such as Mariupol, Nebenzia stated that there is "an enormous amount of evidence" that members of Ukraine's Azov battalion stole the food and that the Russian army has been providing humanitarian aid to local citizens.
The Russian official further refuted the notion that the invasion of Ukraine is exacerbating the food situation, stating that the international body has been addressing this issue for more than two years, far before the outbreak of war.
Nebenzia stated that the crisis was the product of Western laws and regulations, which he claimed had produced supply chain problems and speculation in the food markets, increased transportation and insurance prices, and increased inflation.
The Russian envoy also mentioned "the abrupt transition to green energy imposed on the entire world" and the sanctions against Russia, which, despite not directly targeting Moscow's exports of food or fertilizers, are stopping shipments due to importers' reluctance to operate without extreme caution.
Nebenzia stated, about the Black Sea embargo, that his country is attempting to guarantee economic flow in the region and that Ukraine has mined those seas and is refusing to cooperate to allow the movement of vessels.
In addition, he stated that Ukraine's exports of grains to Europe via other routes, like by train, are intended to pay for the Western-supplied weapons being sent to Kyiv and have nothing to do with the battle against hunger.