The Russian Defense Ministry has accused Ukrainian “militants of the nationalist battalions” of deliberately setting fire to a large granary in Mariupol’s sea port while fleeing from Russian forces.
According to a ministry statement, the alleged act of arson was down to the unwillingness of the “militants” to leave grain supplies to Mariupol’s residents. As a result, according to the military, more than 50 thousand tons of grain were destroyed.
“This inhuman crime demonstrates to the entire world community the ‘true face’ of the Kiev regime, which, in fact, uses the methods of food terrorism against its own people,” it claimed.
The ministry said the destruction was committed as the “so-called civilized West” continues to support Kiev while accusing Russia of stoking a global food crisis.
The Defense Ministry stressed that Russian forces during their “special military operation” support the civilian population, treat it humanely and “do not strike at the social infrastructure of the country, unlike the Ukrainian armed formations.”
Since the launch of the Russian military operation in Ukraine, Moscow and Kiev have accused each other of various war crimes, while denying their own liability.
The Donetsk People’s Republic authorities reported earlier that the firefighters failed to save the grain stock despite several days of efforts.
“There is a large amount of grain on the territory of the Mariupol port, this is both corn grain and wheat. Judging by the smell and appearance, it is unsuitable for further use, most of it,” an aide to the government of the Donetsk People's Republic, Yan Gagin, told RIA Novosti.
The global food market, already affected by climate change and the Covid pandemic, has been badly affected by the Russian military offensive in Ukraine, as the two countries account for about 30% of global wheat exports. Russia is also the world’s largest exporter of fertilizers.
While the West has accused Russia of causing a surge in food prices by continuing its military operation, Moscow maintains that the real cause of the food crisis is the “politically motivated” Western sanctions against it.
Ukraine has repeatedly accused Moscow of “stealing” its stockpiles of wheat and sending it overseas. The spokesman for the UN Secretary-General, Stephane Dujarric, however, said the United Nations is unable to verify these claims.
Ukraine and Western states have repeatedly accused Moscow of impeding grain exports by blocking Ukraine’s Black Sea ports. Russia has rejected such claims, maintaining it is ready to ensure safe passage for grain-carrying vessels from the ports. The disruption of grain flow stems from Kiev’s own actions and extensive mining of the shoreline by the Ukrainian military, Moscow insists.
Russia attacked the neighboring state in late February, following Ukraine’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements, first signed in 2014, and Moscow’s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. The German- and French-brokered protocols were designed to give the breakaway regions special status within the Ukrainian state.
The Kremlin has since demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join the US-led NATO military bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked and has denied claims it was planning to retake the two republics by force.