MOSCOW’S WEAPONIZATION OF FOOD: HOLODOMOR AND BLOCKAGE OF GRAIN EXPORTS TODAY - Ukraine is among the globe’s top exporters of crucial grains, including corn, wheat, barley, rapeseed, and soybeans, and was the world’s largest producer of sunflower oil prior to Russia’s full-scale invasion. Among key importers of these foodstuffs include the countries of North Africa, the Middle East, and East Asia. Since Russia’s full-scale invasion, exports have become increasingly difficult—and dangerous—amid Russian attacks on Ukrainian ports and deliberate destruction of Ukraine’s agricultural infrastructure.
Russia’s occupation of southern regions of Ukraine has jeopardized the stability of global food supply. Russian mines and artillery fire have shrunk Ukraine’s arable land, Russian attacks have hurt Ukraine’s ability to export grain, and Russian forces’ blocking ports in the Black and Azov seas threatens maritime grain trade. In doing so, Moscow’s war on Ukraine has exacerbated global food insecurity as a means to leverage the world’s dire nutritional needs to alleviate sanctions and trade restrictions resulting from its ongoing aggression.
Russia’s cynical grain blackmail is a component of its war effort as it seeks to subjugate Ukraine and its people. This policy carries echoes of Russia’s Soviet past and Stalin’s man-made famine in Ukraine between 1932 and 1933: the Holodomor, which caused millions of deaths.
How has Russia’s violence in Ukraine impacted food production and exports? How has the international community responded to Russia’s weaponization of food supply in a globalized agricultural economy, and what steps can Ukraine’s partners take to alleviate the impacts of this weaponization? How does Russia’s past mirror its dangerous actions today as it blocks ports, mines farmland, and attacks critical agricultural infrastructure?
The Atlantic Council’s Eurasia Center and the McCain Institute gathered a panel of experts from Ukraine and the United States to discuss Moscow’s weaponization of food as a tool of aggression in its war on Ukraine and global security.
ORIGINAL AIRDATE: 11/13/23