A senior US official has accused Russia of driving food shortages in Yemen and around the world, suggesting Moscow is to blame for rapidly rising prices. The Kremlin rejected the charge, instead citing American sanctions as a leading cause of starvation.
In an address at the United Nations headquarters in New York on Thursday, US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield attempted to tie Russia’s attack on Ukraine to Yemen’s dire hunger crisis.
“The World Food Program’s March report identified Yemen as one of the countries most affected by wheat price increases and lack of imports from Ukraine. This is just another grim example of the ripple effect Russia’s unprovoked, unjust, unconscionable war is having on the world’s most vulnerable,” she said.
The diplomat went on to praise Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates for their humanitarian assistance to Yemen, failing to mention Riyahd’s ongoing bombing campaign that has deliberately targeted food production sites and vital civilian infrastructure for more than seven years.
Though international monitors have pulled out of the country, as of late 2021, nearly 400,000 Yemenis were estimated killed throughout the war from direct and indirect causes, while January “shattered” monthly civilian casualty records, according to the UN.
Russia responded to the charges from Linda Thomas-Greenfield during the UN session, claiming it was American sanctions harming the supply chain and causing global food shortages.
“The main factor for instability and the source of the problem today is not the Russian special military operation in Ukraine, but sanctions measures imposed on our country seeking to cut off any supplies from Russia and the supply chain, apart from those supplies that those countries in the West need, in other words energy,” said Deputy UN Ambassador Dmitry Polyansky.
He added: “If you really want to help the world avoid a food crisis you should lift the sanctions that you yourselves imposed, your sanctions of choice indeed, and poor countries will immediately feel the difference.”
Yemen is widely regarded by aid groups as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, with 16 million Yemenis estimated to be food insecure in 2022. In addition to consistent military support from Washington, the United States has also helped to enforce Saudi Arabia’s blockade on the country’s ports and helped Riyadh avoid responsibility for alleged war crimes before international bodies like the UN.
Earlier this month, Yemen’s Houthis and the Saudi-led coalition agreed to a two-month ceasefire following major escalations in the war. UN mediators have voiced hopes the truce will be extended further, though after similar efforts in the past it remains to be seen whether the lull in fighting will endure.