LONDON (Reuters) – Russia said on Wednesday the West was spreading lies about the causes of the global food crisis which Moscow said was fueled by sanctions imposed on Russia by the United States and European Union in because of the invasion of Ukraine.
In addition to the death and devastation wrought by the Russian invasion, the war and the West’s attempt to cripple the Russian economy as punishment have caused the price of grain, cooking oil, fertilizers and energy, which has hurt global growth.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told reporters in Moscow she was appalled by repeated Western claims that Russia was responsible for the global food crisis.
“It’s a lie – such accusations are complete lies,” Zakharova said. “So the West can supply all these weapons to Ukraine, but for some reason nothing can be taken out of Ukraine?”
The United States and members of the European Union, which supply arms to Ukraine, have accused Russia of stoking a food crisis by preventing Ukraine’s grain exports – which account for about a tenth of exports world wheat.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy warned on June 9 that millions could starve to death because of a Russian blockade of Ukrainian Black Sea ports which he said has left the world “on the brink of a terrible crisis. eating”.
Russia and Ukraine are two of the largest producers of agricultural raw materials in the world. Russia is the world’s largest exporter of wheat after the European Union, while Ukraine is the world’s largest exporter of sunflower seeds.
Both play an important role in the barley, maize and rapeseed markets while Russia is one of the world’s leading fertilizer exporters.
Western sanctions, Zakharova said, had pushed agricultural markets to the brink by disrupting payment systems, shipping and insurance that had prevented many Russian food and fertilizer exports.
“It’s illogical – on the one hand the European Union (…) claims that a threat to world food security is being created, but at the same time it is blocking the routes of transport of goods to itself on its own continent,” Zakharova said.
President Vladimir Putin and Russian officials do not use the words “war” or “invasion”. They described the action as a “special military operation” aimed at preventing the persecution of Russian speakers in eastern Ukraine.
Putin also presents the war as a revolt against the United States, which he says has humiliated Russia since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991 by pushing for the expansion of the NATO military alliance to the US. ‘west.
Ukraine says it is fighting for its survival against a Russian land grab and will fight to the end to liberate its territory from Russian control. Kyiv rejects allegations that Russian speakers have been persecuted.
Eritrea, Armenia, Mongolia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Somalia, Belarus, Turkey, Madagascar, Lebanon, Egypt and Pakistan depend on Russia or Ukraine for more than 70% of their wheat imports in 2021, according to United Nations data.
Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Moldova, Serbia, Honduras and Ghana depend on Russia for 50% or more of their fertilizer imports in 2021, the data shows.
(Reporting by Reuters; editing by Guy Faulconbridge and Angus MacSwan)