Putin blockades Ukraine because he wants to 'create new migrant crisis through starvation'

12 June 2022, 11:29 | Updated: 12 June 2022, 11:35

Ukraine has warned Russia's blockade on its ports could trigger a new migrant crisis
Ukraine has warned Russia's blockade on its ports could trigger a new migrant crisis. Picture: Alamy/LBC

By Will Taylor

Russia is blocking food shipments out of Ukraine because it wants to create a migrant crisis, a senior Ukrainian official has told LBC.

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The country's deputy food minister warned the Kremlin's naval blockade could trigger starvations in places such as Kenya.

His warning comes as Ukraine tried to push the international community to find a way of lifting Russia's blockade of its ports in the Black Sea, from where the country exports millions of tonnes of wheat and oils vital to global food stocks.

Taras Vysotskyi told LBC's Swarbrick on Sunday: "They [want] to achieve two goals.

"First of all, to damage Ukraine, because our economy is export orientated and the agriculture sector is one of the most important.

"Another is to create a global, international food security crisis which can lead to migrations, to refugees and so on, because they understand such volume, it is impossible to find in another direction.

"So they just plan to make negative economic impacts on the world, on Ukraine, and try to get some benefits for itself."

'Russia are trying to create a global food crisis.'

Asked by Tom Swarbrick if the blockade could lead to famines in places like Kenya, which along with Somalia and Ethiopia is already seeing people experience extreme hunger, Mr Vysotskyi said: "Unfortunately yes... it is impossible to replace [Ukrainian wheat].

"And now, or in the next few weeks, we are going to have a new harvest, and usually during July to October all of this wheat came from Ukraine to the reserves of these countries.

"And so far we have seen that it will be impossible, so unfortunately, yes, it is going to have negative effects."

Russia's war in Ukraine has devastated the global supply of wheat
Russia's war in Ukraine has devastated the global supply of wheat. Picture: Alamy

Read more: Ukraine aims to free captured Brits sentenced to death in prisoner swap deal

Ukraine has been the world's fifth-biggest exporter of wheat, and is thought to have about 20 million tonnes of grain in storage, unable to be exported.

It is thought alternatives like rail and road exports into Eastern Europe will struggle to replace ship transport.

Read more: Vladimir Putin given 'urgent' medical help 'after sudden weakness and sickness'

Mr Vysotskhyi's remarks will trigger memories of the mass migrant crisis in Europe driven by chaos in Syria and North Africa in 2015, and the sometimes fatal English Channel crossings to the UK.

Earlier this month, Ukraine's president Volodymyr Zelenskyy warned of a food crisis triggering disorder in Europe.

Putin continues to keep up the blockade on Ukraine
Putin continues to keep up the blockade on Ukraine. Picture: Alamy

He said: "The food security crisis will inevitably lead to large-scale protests in European countries.

"Many governments will have to explain to protestors why our continent is held hostage by one country and one person in Moscow that gave the order to put a maritime blockade on Ukraine."

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