A Russian state TV host who is apparently familiar with Russian President Vladimir Putin's thinking asserts that the threat of famine in Ukraine will eventually force the West to lift its collective sanctions against Russia.
At the recent St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, Margarita Simonyan, editor in chief of the Russian state-controlled media outlet RT, said she has heard from several people in Moscow that ''all our hope is in the famine.''
''Here is what it means,'' Simonyan continued. ''It means that the famine will start now, and they will lift the sanctions and be friends with us, because they will realize that it's necessary.''
Various sanctions against Russia were levied around Feb. 24, when Russia invaded Ukraine. Nearly four full months later, the military conflict continues between the neighboring countries.
The sanctions include:
- The United States placed a ban on all imports of Russian oil and gas, while also targeting the country's largest lenders.
- The United Kingdom has been phasing out imports of Russian oil.
- Germany halted plans to open the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia.
- And the European Union has promised to phase out imports of coal from Russia by August.
The widespread sanctions have also hit prominent individuals, businesses and banks, while big companies such as McDonald's, Starbucks, and Coca-Cola have completely withdrawn from Russia as a sign of protest against Putin's war.
Russia, meanwhile, has been accused of blocking Ukraine's ports and laying the groundwork for a global food crisis.
According to the United Nations, the Russia-Ukraine war, Russia's seizure of foreign farmland and the Black Sea blockade have exacerbated the food crisis in Ukraine, driving up famine levels in that country.
Putin has reportedly pledged to lift the blockade if Western sanctions from Russia's ''special military operation'' are removed in due time.
''Most important of all, we need to end the war in Ukraine,'' António Guterres, the U.N. secretary general, told the Security Council on May 19, while lamenting how the food distribution networks are struggling.
Sara Menker, founder and chief executive officer of Gro Intelligence, which provides actionable insights across the economy, climate, and agriculture, said that before the war, Russia and Ukraine provided nearly one-third of the world's wheat exports.
The countries were also among the top five global exporters of corn, she said.
For now, though, all Ukrainian ports remain closed amid the conflict.
A representative of Ukraine reportedly told the Security Council that Putin's war threatens some 400 million people globally who rely on Ukrainian grain exports.
Russia is also seizing Ukrainian grain for its own consumption or to sell it illegally on international markets, according to the unnamed official.
The EU's foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell Fontelles, has accused Putin of deliberately attempting to ''create hunger in the world in order to put pressure ... on the EU.''
''This is a real war crime. If you are using hunger as a weapon of war — this has a name,'' Fontelles said in Luxembourg after arriving for a meeting of EU foreign ministers, according to Newsweek.
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