Russia Weaponises Hunger

Russia’s decision to halt an agreement that allows grain to flow from Ukraine to countries in Africa where hunger is a growing threat has been condemned.

Russia’s announcement on Monday that it would end the agreement on the export of Ukrainian grain, also to the Middle East and Asia, has provoked a flurry of reactions from the international community. 

EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell, called the move “unjustified” and accused Moscow of “turn[ing] people’s hunger into a weapon”.

“This is something very serious that will create a lot of troubles for many people around the world,” Borrell said.

Speaking at an event on Tuesday in the European Parliament, businesswoman Alona Lebedieva, the head of a leading private company in Ukraine, was also highly critical.

Lebedieva, the owner and Head of Supervisory Board at the Kyiv based Aurum Group, told the meeting in parliament, “Every day brings tons of disturbing news. On Monday, Russia announced its withdrawal from the agreement of Ukrainian grain, including to Africa. Hunger is a terrible weapon.”

She said, “Many nations are suffering from the actions of Russia. It must be stopped at all cost. Russia must be isolated at the state level – sanctions must be strengthened in order to drain its potential, so that it runs out of resources to implement its aggressive intentions. Russia must be excluded from all international organizations to eliminate its pressure at the international political level. Perpetrators of those crimes must be brought to justice before an international court.”

Lebedieva’s company  is a leading Ukrainian diversified industrial and investment group  with more than 1,500 employees. She is also a Member of the supervisory board of Corporate Investment Fund Start-up and a graduate of the Kyiv Institute of International Relations.

She is a strong advocate for change in both the political arena and in the workplace.

The debate considered possible comparisons between current events in both Ukraine and war-torn Sudan.

She said, “Some 2.5 million of Sudan’s people are at risk of starvation while some 24.7m people need humanitarian aid and protection. It is almost half of Sudan’s population.”

“The general secretary of the UN said he is appalled by large-scale rapes in Sudan. He is particularly concerned about the deepening ethnic aspect of the confrontation, as well as spike in sexual violence across the country.”

“Some 140,000 refugees have fled the country, 90% of them are women and children. We are reading horrifying stories of murders, rapes, assaults and violence.”

She added, “Since Russia’s invasion in Ukraine almost 9,000 people have been killed and civilian casualties amount for to more than 24,000.”

“According to the data from the UN high commissioner of human rights the number of wounded Ukrainian civilians has reached more than 15,000 including 445 boys, 314 girls and 276 children that gender cannot be identify. The number of Ukrainian refugees, who have left Ukraine, is recorded  to be about 8.5m people. I strongly believe that the real facts are higher by many times.”

She said, “I wish to express my personal appreciation and admiration for the strength of the Sudan people, especially women, who despite of all harassment, violence and even the threats of life, unite for the sole purpose of helping and protecting.”

“Some 49 peace humanitarian initiatives, as well as civil society organizations have formed a  Peace for Sudan Platform. These women provide invaluable assistance in humanitarian, psychological and other issues.”

“War has led to strong coordination between women’s groups and strong solidarity.”

“When speaking about the role of Sudanese women I am filled with pride. Sudanese and Ukrainian women are united in the desire to help, to protect, to cure, to overcome crisis and to stop war. Every woman has incredible potential and united we are, women, can defeat everyone and everything.”

“I strongly believe that if women ruled the world, there would be no wars.”