Russian TV Says Allies Loyal to Putin Won't Starve as Country Hoards Food

Kremlin-backed television guests have discussed global hunger caused by the war in Ukraine, amid a warning that countries deemed "unfriendly" to Russia will suffer the most.

There are fears that Ukraine's Black Sea ports blockaded by Russia will worsen a global food shortage as millions of tonnes of grain and other agricultural products from Europe's breadbasket are unable to be exported.

During a discussion on Tuesday's edition of Russia-1 show 60 Minutes, political scientist Dmitry Egorchenkov said that there is a "huge market competition over this market right now" over images of a grain harvest.

Anchor Olga Skabeyeva interrupted, saying that U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen had "openly said we understand there will be hunger [...] on the African continent."

Egorchenkov continued, saying that Russia "supplies its own food and actively develops agricultural markets parallel to those stories westerners tell that there will be global hunger.

"Those who have normal relations with Russia—not even friendly, but just normal—they won't go hungry," Egorchenkov said.

Journalist and Russia watcher Julia Davis, who tweeted the video, wrote: "I'm hearing this message on multiple programs broadcast by Russian state TV, it must be one of their mandatory assignments."

"The gist of it: yes, there will be global hunger, but those who have good relations with Russia won't starve. Primitive, cruel and callous Russian agitprop."

Davis also shared a video from another Russia-1 program, Evening with Vladimir Solovyov, in which one guest suggested that Moscow could weaponize Russia's food supply.

In the program broadcast on May 19, Margarita Simonyan, who is the editor-in-chief of Kremlin-backed outlet RT, said: "Thank God, we don't have to worry about [a food crisis]."

"We can even share with those in the world who will behave nicely," she added, "to some we can sell, others we can simply help."

She told the anchor Solovyov that Russia is "expecting a decent harvest," of grain production—unlike in the U.S. and India, "which have had drought this year."

On Tuesday, European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen condemned Russia for targeting Ukraine's grain silos and has called for talks to unblock around 20 million tons of wheat exports trapped in Ukraine due to Russia's blockade.

"It cannot be in Russia's interests that because of Russia people are dying of hunger in the world," she told Reuters, accusing Moscow of using "hunger and grain to wield power." Newsweek has contacted the Kremlin for comment.

Wheat field in Ukraine
A wheat field at a farm in southern Ukraine's Odessa region, on May 22, 2022. Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine and Russia's blockading of Black Sea ports has stopped the delivery of Ukrainian grains, raising fears of global starvation. GENYA SAVILOV/Getty Images