A scene in Ukraine following Russia’s invasion.
- Germany’s agricultural minister said Ukraine needs to be stocked with weapons to avoid a global famine.
- Food Minister Cem Özdemir urged Western nations to increase arms to Ukraine, per German news outlet WAZ.
- He said Russian President Vladimir Putin is waging a “starvation strategy” on the agricultural landscape.
Germany’s agricultural minister warned of the potential for a global famine if Ukraine does not receive more weapons from Western countries.
According to Food Minister Cem Özdemir, Russian troops are wreaking havoc on the world’s agricultural supply, he told the Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung (WAZ), a German newspaper, in a report published Sunday.
“Russia’s war against Ukraine is increasingly turning out to be an attack on the international community,” he said. “That’s why it’s so important that the West supports Ukraine with more, more effective weapons — and Germany shouldn’t be exempt from that.”
Özdemir told WAZ that Germany has received notice that Russian troops, at Russian President Vladimir Putin’s command, are “deliberately destroying agricultural infrastructure and supply chains.”
If they continue to destroy the agricultural landscape in Ukraine, there could be devastating consequences on the world supply chain of food, he said to WAZ.
He characterized the operation to destroy Ukraine’s agricultural infrastructure as Putin’s “starvation strategy,” and urged international organizations, such as the United Nations World Food and Agriculture Committee, to back him.
“Here we have to agree on fundamental, structural questions of agricultural and food policy worldwide,” he said, according to WAZ.
Russia and Ukraine play pivotal roles in the grain market. Ukraine is a major exporter of both wheat and corn, accounting for 12% and 17% of global supply, respectively. And Russia’s wheat exports account for almost 17% of global supply, Insider’s Urooba Jamal notes. Since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, food prices have started to soar.
“Shortages of these commodities and broad-based increases in prices could add to inflation pressures and food insecurity,” a World Bank spokesperson told Insider.
The potential effects have worried economists in the United States, who are paying close attention to any reverberations from the Ukraine-Russia conflict.
Bart Watson, chief economist at the Brewers Association, for example, told Insider he’s watching out for how barley will affect the beer supply in the US.
“Ukraine and Russia together produce about a fifth of the world’s barley,” Watson said in an interview with Insider.
Craft brewers in the US aren’t majorly dependent on Ukrainian barley. “But these are global markets,” Watson said. “So what happens to the market when the countries that would typically buy these exports from those countries can’t, is the big unknown. Are they able to pivot to other products or sources?”
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