The European Commission has accused Moscow of manufacturing a global crisis by destroying or blocking critical supplies from Ukraine, which is considered the breadbasket of Europe.
“Russia‘s artillery is bombarding grain warehouses in Ukraine, deliberately, and Russian warships in the Black Sea are blockading Ukrainian ships full of wheat and sunflower seeds,” commission President Ursula von der Leyen told the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on Monday. “The consequences of these shameful acts are there for everyone to see: Global wheat prices are skyrocketing, and it is fragile countries and vulnerable populations that suffer most.”
Ms. von der Leyen, who leads the executive branch of the European Union, also said Russia is holding back food supplies to raise global prices or use it as blackmail to rally political support from other places.
In response, the EU is trying to route Ukrainian wheat through other parts of Europe so that supplies can reach Somalia and other vulnerable nations.
Europe is “stepping up our own production to ease pressure on global food markets,” Ms. von der Leyen said.
She said Europe is working with the World Food Program to make sure available products reach poor nations at affordable prices. It is also supporting Africa’s work to become less dependent on imports and produce more food on its own.
“Global cooperation is the antidote against Russia‘s blackmail,” she said.
Ms. von der Leyen cast Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war on Ukrainian food supplies in historical terms, pointing to Soviet seizures that spurred the massive Ukrainian famine of the 1930s.
“Ukraine must win this war,” she said.