Putin trying to starve Ukrainians into submission as he cuts off food access

Russia has "used starvation as a weapon of war" in Ukraine, according to an expert, as the Pope likens situation to the 1930s Stalin-induced famine in the country.

Recent analysis shows that one in six of Ukraine's grain storage facilities have been impacted by Vladimir Putin's "special military operation", either through damage, being blown apart, or falling under Russian control.

And Alex De Waal, executive director of the World Peace Foundation at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, Somerville, Massachusetts, thinks Russia was using "starvation as a weapon".

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He told the Daily Star: "The Russian invading forces have used starvation as a weapon of war, for example in the siege of Mariupol.

"Under international criminal law, the war crime of starvation is defined as denying or destroying objects indispensable for the survival of the civilian population, which includes not just food but water, medicine and shelter. Such acts have occurred."

It was widely reported that residents of Mariupol described how the survived a month-long siege with little food and other necessities.

“No roof, no food and no water,” survivors texted relatives, as per the New York Times.

It comes as Pope Francis on Wednesday compared Russia's war in Ukraine to the "terrible genocide" of the 1930s, when Soviet leader Josef Stalin inflicted famine on the country.

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"This Saturday marks the anniversary of the terrible genocide of the Holodomor, the extermination by famine of 1932-33 that was artificially caused by Stalin," he said in St. Peter's Square in his weekly general audience.

"Let us pray for the victims of this genocide and let us pray for so many Ukrainians – children, women, elderly – who are today suffering the martyrdom of aggression," he said.

The Holodomor was the man-made famine in Soviet Ukraine from 1932 to 1933 that killed millions.

It was caused by Stalin's desire to eradicate Ukraine’s small farms and replace them with state-run collectives.

But De Waal said that the Pope is wrong, and that the current Russian food aggression is in no way comparable to the Holodomor.

"The scale is in no way commensurate with what happened 90 years ago. The fatalities are in the scores, not the millions," he said.

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