Putin is starving Ukraine and threatens the world with hunger
Silence is complicity
It truly pains and embarrasses me as an American, to see just how many of our fellow citizens refuse to condemn and often support Putin’s genocidal invasion of our ally, Ukraine. FOX in general, via pundits like Tucker Carlson influence millions of Americans daily with pro-Kremlin talking points. This post is not about them, it’s about the morality of opposing, not supporting the immorality of Putin’s genocidal war against Ukraine. In particular, this is about Putin’s use of grain to starve, and threaten the starvation of hundreds of millions in a futile attempt at victory in Ukraine.
It would require a book to completely outline Putin’s war crimes in Ukraine so today, I will mention a few and focus on one big one, he’s committing against the entire starving world. Like most of my posts, this one is born out of morning news headline.
I begin my day with coffee and my three favorite news sites, also by far, the most credible and the least biased: The Associated Press, Reuters and BBC News. Today’s inspiration comes from a situation I’ve long tracked, Russia’s attempt to starve Ukraine and the world to coerce us into stop impeding, his cultural genocide of Ukraine.
First and foremost, Putin has already committed an endless stream of war crimes against, our fellow democratic allies, the Ukrainian people. Mass murders of civilians and POWs. Torture, rape, theft, elimination of vital infrastructure required to keep non-combatants alive, etc.
For more credible information on Putin’s war crimes, please see the following:
o “In surveying these various crimes, it would seem that Russia today is committing three essential types of crimes: a war of aggression, war crimes and genocide.”
o “Ukraine's prosecutor general also said they have documented some 30,000 cases of war crimes since the beginning of the war.”
o “Horrific allegations of sexual violence against Ukrainian communities - including children - were also found to be based in fact.”
Today’s article will go deeper into the war crime of starving civilians. Though starvation is a tactic dating back millennia, it is now a war crime. Russia isn’t the only culprit either but as that they are attempting to starve tens of millions around the world, they are today’s focus. Let’s take a quick look at how and why Putin looks to starve his way to victory. First, a quick note on why.
The old proverb that, “an army travels on its stomach” is true, but it’s also true that the civilian population in combat zones do as well. Most who read history are very well aware of terms like, scorched earth, salting fields, poisoning wells, burning grain or as in Putin’s case, stealing it while concurrently blockading ports so that Ukraine’s grain cannot go to the ports of starving nations around the world. For those who have not experienced the sights of mass starvation, in human terms, it’s heinous and torturous. I think we are all too aware of the pictures emanating from populations around the world where brutal thugs commandeer foodstuffs to gain or keep control of a population. In many cases, genocide is the intention and to eliminate a troublesome group or people. Putin intends all three in Ukraine, and against other nations.
Putin isn’t the first from Russia to impose the brutality of hunger on Ukraine. In the 1930s, Stalin attempting to subjugate Ukrainians into docile, submission, created the “Holodomor” which was the calculated starvation of millions of Ukrainians. This was the price of their pursuit of their freedom and identity. Putin’s identity is less Russian than Soviet. He still considers the implosion of the Soviet Union as the biggest tragedy to impact what is today, Russia.
A former KGB operative, Putin has said the collapse of the Soviet Union was one of the greatest disasters of modern history. He says he does not regard the former Soviet republic of Ukraine as a real country, nor Ukrainians as separate people.
It didn’t take long for Putin’s thugs to begin deploying starvation as a tool of war. From the earliest days of the war, Russia began systematically stealing grain from Ukraine, a primary grain producer to the entire world. He did this for a few reasons.
The impact of leveraging hunger by evil despots like Putin are severe, especially for those already starving.
We are witnessing the beginnings of a manmade food crisis that threatens severe hunger and political instability on a global scale. Action must be taken to mitigate this, and soon. As the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) Executive Director David Beasley said on May 19, some 276 million people are now at risk. “Failure to open those ports in the Odesa region will be a declaration of war on global food security,” he told the UN Security Council.
UN World Food Program Director
The above statement from the UN’s WFP director, claiming 276 million people at risk, is now substantially higher due to a long, record hot/ dry summer in grain producing regions globally. The words I have put in bold print in the quote above should terrify everyone. We live in a current global environment that is already quite unstable. Putin’s ability to introduce chaos on any level only benefits his aggression and that of other authoritarians and populists. It doesn’t help that both China and India look the other way regarding these issues.
Xi for his brutal aggression and human rights violations are intended to subjugate Chinese minorities and other difficult populations along his precious BRI/ Belt and Road Initiative. The BRI is Xi’s primary focus for his strategy to achieve regional hegemony by 2035 and global by 2049.
Modi, another populist leader with a long track record of human rights violations, is also profiting from Russia’s manipulation of grain, mostly wheat markets. Besides agriculture, Modi’s India is benefitting from Russia’s cheap fossil fuel products, due to global sanctions that India assists Putin in avoiding. India is only beginning to suggest criticism of Putin’s war crimes due to her benefitting from them. Global condemnation and public pressure on Modi are but slightly improving her perspective on human rights and war crimes… so far.
It's also important to note that Turkey and Syria both also benefit from Putin’s grain thefts and profiteering marketing schemes.
So, my friends, as you’ve noticed, this topic is as complex as it is the embodiment of evil. This said, allow me to very briefly, try and sum up today’s post. Ukraine accounts for enormous global supplies of wheat, corn and barley with many of her customers being the food insecure and starving nations in Africa.
Ukraine is one of the world's major grain producers. The country mainly grows and exports wheat, corn and barley. According to the European Commission, Ukraine accounts for 10% of the world wheat market, 15% of the corn market, and 13% of the barley market. With more than 50% of world trade, it is also the main player on the sunflower oil market.
Ranked in first and second place respectively, corn and wheat are also the world's most widely grown cereals. A major exporter like Ukraine dropping out can have serious consequences for global food security.
Not only is Putin punishing Ukraine with starvation, same as Stalin did 90 years ago but his tactics imperil the nearly 300 million already at risk of starvation globally. Like oil and grain, Putin is literally manipulating markets to pay for his war crimes. While that the majority of the world is unified in absorbing these prices in support of saving the lives of the innocent, some nations and movements still support Putin’s evil. It pains me to say the extreme right in the US, is one of those movements to a large extent.
The bottom line to all of this is that Putin is wielding hunger as a weapon of war and to the extent that it’s recognized in international law, as a war crime.
Rule 53. The use of starvation of the civilian population as a method of warfare is prohibited.
- IHL, International Humanitarian Law
Eight months into Putin’s war against Ukraine, all nations, movements and organizations fully understand what Putin’s up to and its degree of evil. Anyone still supporting or refusing to condemn him is in my opinion, complicit. As Americans, our calling card for the past century has been defending liberty. We must as a nation remain committed to this universal human endeavor. It’s part of our identity and DNA. To think or act differently is, in its most basic form, un-American. Quite frankly, I think Nobel Peace prize winner, Elie Wiesel said it best and I stand with him: