Some world leaders are accusing Russian President Vladimir Putin with "blackmailing" the world food supply by stealing Ukrainian grain after satellite photos show Russian ships loading the food products onto cargo ships.
The Daily Mail reported Tuesday that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Putin is "gradually stealing" Ukrainian grain and other food supplies, captured in Maxar Technology satellite photos in the Crimean Port of Sevastopol showing two large Russian cargo ships docking next to silos.
"The world community must help Ukraine unblock seaports, otherwise the energy crisis will be followed by a food crisis and many more countries will face it," Zelenskyy said Saturday in a CNN story. "Russia has blocked almost all ports and all, so to speak, maritime opportunities to export food — our grain, barley, sunflower, and more. A lot of things."
According to the report, Russian and Ukrainian grain make up about 30% of global trade, in addition to Ukraine being the fourth largest exporter of corn and selling about half of its wheat to the United Nations World Food Program to battle world hunger.
According to the report, each Russian cargo ship can carry 30,000 metric tons, and the Ukrainian Defense Ministry claims 40,000 metric tons have already been removed from the country by the Russians, operating through Crimea to the Black Sea, which they currently control.
"[The stolen food] is sent in an organized manner in the direction of Crimea," Ukrainian minister of Agrarian Policy and Food, Mykola Solsky told CNN. "This is a big business that is supervised by people of the highest level."
It's not just Ukrainian officials saying Russia is taking the food supplies.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told the Daily Mail Russia is using "blackmail" on the world by threatening food shortages.
"In Russian-occupied Ukraine, the Kremlin's army is confiscating grain stocks and machinery," she said in the Mail's story. "And Russian warships in the Black Sea are blockading Ukrainian ships full of wheat and sunflower seeds."
The Kremlin is calling the theft allegations "fake news," and said it is the trade sanctions imposed by the other countries in the world that are causing any food shortage, CNN reported.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken rebuked Russia's response.
"The Russian Federation claims falsely that the international community's sanctions are to blame for worsening the global food crisis. Sanctions are not blocking Black Sea ports, trapping ships filled with food, and destroying Ukrainian roads and railways," Blinken said. "Russia is."
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