Putin’s forces deliberately targeting wheat fields with shells to torch harvest, Ukraine says
Russian forces were today accused of targeting Ukraine’s wheat fields with banned incendiary bombs as Putin seeks to starve the country.
Footage appeared to show Ukrainian soldiers hosing down wheat crops in efforts to save the grain harvest.
The nation faces mass food shortages and a Russian naval blockade preventing it from being able to export lucrative agricultural goods.
Nicknamed ‘the breadbasket of Europe’, Ukraine has some of the continent’s most fertile land – and supplies food to much of the Middle East and Africa.
Incendiary bombs, outlawed by a UN treaty signed by Russia, Ukraine and 123 others, have been used repeatedly by Putin’s forces since its invasion began on February 24.
The Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons bans the use of specific types of weapons that are considered to cause unnecessary or unjustifiable suffering to combatants or to affect civilians indiscriminately.
The bombs’ flammable thermite content burns at 2,200C and ignites fires that are hard to put out.
They produce the hottest burning man-made substance and can burn human flesh down to the bone.
Footage showed the soldiers making a valiant effort to salvage the crucial crop supplies
The so-called ‘breadbasket of Europe’ is being threatened with mass food shortages by Putin
It came as US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken estimated there are 20million tonnes of grain sitting in locked silos outside Black Sea port Odesa.
There is more waiting on stuck ships blocked from leaving the key strategic port.
Mr Blinken said yesterday: ‘President Putin is stopping food from being shipped and aggressively using his propaganda machine to deflect or distort responsibility, because he hopes it’ll get the world to give in to him and end the sanctions.
‘In other words, quite simply put, it’s blackmail.
‘The Kremlin needs to realise that it is exporting starvation and suffering well beyond Ukrainian quarters, with countries in Africa that are experiencing an outsized share of the pain.’
The news came as the British Ministry of Defence accused Russia of depending on Cold War-era missiles with ‘severe’ risks to civilians.
The ministry said the 1960s Kh-22 missiles ‘are highly inaccurate and therefore can cause severe collateral damage and casualties’.
Russia is likely using the anti-ship missiles because it is running short of more precise modern missiles, the ministry added.
It gave no details of where exactly such missiles are have been deployed and there was no confirmation from Ukrainian authorities on the use of the 5.5-tonne missiles.
Piles of burning grain of and destroyed infrastructure as seen in Sivers’k, Donbas last month
Photos taken in Crimea last month show Russian-flagged carrier ships docking and loading next to huge silos, raising concerns about massive thefts of Ukrainian grain supplies
Meanwhile the Ukrainian army has said Russian forces are regrouping to attack Donetsk province city Sloviansk.
Russia is targeting the east in an attempt to seize territory still under Ukrainian control eight years after establishing separatist republics in Donetsk and Luhansk.
The Donetsk regional police said Russian missiles hit 13 towns and villages in the province overnight.
In a statement, the police added that civilians had been killed and wounded, without specifying numbers.
And in Kharkiv, footage showed Ukrainian artillery strike Russian supply warehouses.
Ukraine’s second largest city, which held out against a lengthy and destructive Russian siege early in the war, was also the sight of a brave couple’s wedding.
Ukrainian soldier Anton married 21-year-old bride Ira in front of Kharkiv’s Municipal Building, which was almost entirely destroyed during Russian airstrikes.
President Zelensky said the outcome of the war will determine the new world order.
Addressing the Shangri-La Dialogue meeting in Singapore last night, he insisted support from the West must not let up.
Zelensky said: ‘I am grateful for your support… but this support is not only for Ukraine, but for you as well.
‘It is on the battlefields of Ukraine that the future rules of this world are being decided along with the boundaries of the possible.’
EU president Ursula von der Leyen will meet with Mr Zelensky in Kyiv today.
She was pictured arriving at the capital’s train station wearing a flak jacket.
Ursula von der Leyen was pictured meeting an unidentified official in Kyiv earlier today