Russia stands accused of stealing several hundred thousand tons of grain from the parts of Ukraine it currently controls. Business Insider says Ukraine’s deputy agriculture minister made the accusation over the weekend. Another 1.5 million tons of grain are in territory Russia controls and are available to be stolen too. The Ukraine Foreign Ministry made the claim last week on Twitter, saying, “We demand that Russia stop illicit grain stealing, unblock Ukrainian ports, and allow ships to pass.”
The humanitarian crisis caused by the Russian invasion is only growing worse. The United Nations says over 1.7 billion people are at risk of poverty and famine due to disruption in Ukraine’s food production system. Ukraine’s ag minister says they’ve personally heard from many silo owners in the occupied territory about Russian forces stealing grain. The Kremlin denied the accusations that its forces are stealing grain, saying it was unaware of the source of that information.
As if the threat of a global food shortage from Russia’s war on Ukraine wasn’t bad enough, now there’s Ukraine’s charge that Russia’s stealing its grain. Minnesota Rep. Betty McCollum sits on the House Ag Committee; “I believe, from what I’ve read, we’re at the greatest risk with our global supply since World War II.”
Dave Salmonsen is senior director of congressional relations with the American Farm Bureau; “If this is happening, (it) takes this grain out of world supply. Maybe it will. Maybe it won’t? Who knows where it will end up? But Ukraine has been such a large exporter of grain.”
The world’s fourth-largest last year at almost 45 million tons, much of it going to the Middle East and Africa. McCollum; “Africa imports a huge percentage of its food from Russia and Ukraine, and it’s being hit especially hard. Wheat prices are up by 60 percent. Fertilizer shortages could cut food production by almost 20 percent.”
The United Nations estimates that about 1.7 billion people may face poverty and hunger due to food disruptions from the war. McCollum, who chairs the House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee said; “This feeds into a national security crisis for the United States when there’s so much civil strife going on, especially for access to food.”