“Food has become part of the Kremlin’s arsenal of terror and we cannot tolerate this,” the European Commission president has said.

In an address to the EU Parliament in Strasbourg yesterday (Wednesday, June 8), Ursula Von der Leyen condemned Russia’s bombardment of grain storage facilities in Ukraine and its blockade of ports in the country.

It is estimated that 20 million tonnes of grain is currently “trapped” in Ukraine. The country is among the world’s biggest grain exporters.

The EU Commission president also accused Russia of stealing grain from Ukraine.

“It is our duty to dismantle Russia’s disinformation. Our sanctions do not touch basic food commodities. They do not affect the trading of grain or other food between Russia and third countries,” she said.

“The port embargo specifically has full exemption on agricultural goods,” Von der Leyen explained.

“So let’s stick to the truth, it’s Putin’s war of aggression that fuels the food crisis and nothing else,” she told MEPs.

Food insecurity

Von der Leyen said that 275 million people across the world are likely to be at risk of food insecurity during 2022, according to Euro News Radio.

The World Bank has estimated 10 million people are pushed into extreme poverty for every percentage point increase in food prices.

The EU Commission president noted that some of the global food insecurity issues and debt distress are a legacy of the Covid-19 pandemic and climate change.

She also pointed to the wider cost-of-living crisis, including the rising price of energy which has driven up the cost of fertiliser and transport.

However, she stated that these factors are compounded by the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

“This is a cold, callous and calculated siege by Putin on some of the most vulnerable countries and peoples in the world,” Von der Leyen told the EU Parliament.