Russia blames sanctions for food crisis

(AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File)

It’s not just the United States that’s facing issues of empty shelves in food stores. A number of countries are dealing with both supply chain problems and shortages of staple food goods. While there are a lot of moving parts contributing to these issues, the Russians have determined that the root cause is the global sanctions on their country. The almost comical explanation from Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov yesterday left most of the media rolling its collective eyes because the Russian blockade of Ukrainian ports is preventing millions of tons of grain from making it to the global market. Wheat, in particular, is rotting in storage silos, along with corn and other crops. Ukraine is also one of the largest exporters of sunflower oil. But at the moment, virtually none of their produce is able to get out of the country. (Associated Press)


Russia pressed Thursday for the West to lift sanctions imposed because of its war in Ukraine, claiming without proof that the punitive measures are preventing millions of tons of grain and other agricultural products from leaving Ukrainian ports, exacerbating a global food crisis.

Ukraine is one of the world’s largest exporters of wheat, corn and sunflower oil, but the war, including a Russian blockade of its ports, has prevented most of those products from leaving the country, endangering the world food supply.

But Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov sought to shift the blame to Western sanctions on Thursday. “We accuse Western countries of taking a series of unlawful actions that has led to the blockade.”

While this really should go without saying, food, fertilizer and seeds are exempt from all of the sanctions being imposed on Russia. And it’s not Russia’s products that the global market is missing out on. It’s Ukraine’s products that aren’t making it out of the country. There are no sanctions on Ukraine. There is, however, a massive military blockade preventing ships from coming and going through the nation’s ports. And road travel for large quantities of goods is “problematic” because of all the shelling and the destroyed roads and bridges.

According to the World Trade Organization, there are currently 25 million tons of grain sitting in storage near Ukraine’s ports and another 25 million tons are expected to be harvested in the next month. (Assuming the Russians haven’t blown up all of the farm equipment by then.) This week the Russian Defense Ministry offered to “open a path” for foreign ships to leave both Black Sea ports and Mariupol. But every time they’ve claimed to open paths before, they immediately started shelling anyone who attempted to use them. The Russians have lost any credibility they may have once had in such matters.


Meanwhile, China and Russia vetoed new sanctions on North Korea at the UN this week.

China and Russia vetoed a U.N. resolution sponsored by the United States on Thursday that would have imposed tough new sanctions on North Korea for its spate of intercontinental ballistic missile launches that can be used to deliver nuclear weapons.

The vote in the 15-member Security Council was 13-2 and marked a first serious division among the five veto-wielding permanent members of the U.N.’s most powerful body on a North Korea sanctions resolution.

In the past, both China and Russia went along with the rest of the UN in imposing sanctions on Kim Jong-un’s madness. Or at least they were willing to do so on paper while undermining the sanctions in the background. But now they are both openly defying the rest of the world and seem willing to welcome North Korea into the nuclear club as part of the new Axis of Evil. The world is clearly fractured in a way that we haven’t seen since the 1940s and I’ve grown increasingly concerned that we may be on the brink of something that most of us hoped we would never live to see.

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