- A new State Department report said Russian propaganda is blaming the West for food insecurity.
- Yale historian Timothy Snyder said Putin would use mass starvation to win the war in Ukraine.
- Russia has been accused of blocking exports of Ukraine grain that some countries rely on.
The US State Department said Wednesday that Russia and its proxies are blaming the West and Ukraine for the global food crisis in a “massive disinformation campaign” that primarily targets the Middle East and Africa, areas most impacted by the crisis.
Earlier this month, Yale historian Timothy Snyder warned that Russian President Vladimir Putin planned to starve some countries as part of his invasion efforts in Ukraine, with the intention of using mass starvation as a “backdrop for a propaganda contest.”
“When the food riots begin, and as starvation spreads, Russian propaganda will blame Ukraine, and call for Russia’s territorial gains in Ukraine to be recognized, and for all sanctions to be lifted,” Snyder, a professor at Yale University and expert on authoritarianism, said.
Snyder’s assessment was not far off from what the State Department described in its Wednesday report.
The area around the Black Sea, including Ukraine and Russia, has been referred to as the “world’s breadbasket” due to its fertile soil and high rates of grain production, with some countries in the Middle East and Africa receiving more than half their wheat from Ukraine.
But Russia has been accused of blocking millions of tons of grain exports from leaving Ukraine’s ports, a charge the Kremlin has denied.
The State Department said Russia is now targeting the areas of the world most heavily impacted with false narratives that claim the food insecurity is due to “illegal, anti-Russian” sanctions, Europe “hoarding” Ukrainian grain, or even trading weapons for grain from Kyiv. The claims are often made by Russian officials and then repeated on media with ties to Russia.
The report cited an Africa Day speech given by Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on May 25 during which he urged African ambassadors to demand the lifting of sanctions in order to address food insecurity.
The following day, Lavrov appeared on RT Arabic, a Russian state-owned outlet, and accused the West of “neo-colonialism and of blackmailing African and Arab countries to join ‘anti-Russia’ sanctions,” according to the report.
“This disinformation is intended to both hide Russia’s culpability and persuade leaders of at-risk countries to support an end to sanctions designed to stop Russia’s unjust and brutal war in Ukraine,” the report said.
The State Department added that the US and its allies worked to avoid potential threats to global food security caused by sanctions by making exceptions for food and agriculture products.
“The Russian government should stop weaponizing food and allow Ukraine to safely ship out its grain so that millions of hungry people in the Middle East and Africa can be fed,” the report continued.
Snyder previously said Putin would intentionally starve much of the developing world in order to win the war in Ukraine, and that using mass starvation as a propaganda tool was only one part of the plan.
He said Putin also wanted to starve nations in order to produce more refugees and create instability in Europe. Finally, he said cutting off Ukraine’s exports would threaten its statehood.
This content was originally published here.