The Russian authorities hope that a blockade of grain exports from Ukraine and a possible global food crisis will lead to the lifting of Western sanctions against the country. That is what the head of the Russian state television channel RT said. According to Margarita Simonyan, “all hopes” of Moscow are “set in famine”.
RT is one of the major state-funded and controlled television channels in Russia and, in that capacity, an important propaganda channel of the Russian regime. The European Union, among others, banned the channel after the Russian invasion of Ukraine at the end of February.
According to Simonyan – a European Union-sanctioned confidant of Russian President Vladimir Putin – Moscow has “put all hopes on famine”. She stated that she had heard that “several times from various people” in the Kremlin.
“It means the famine will start now, and they will lift the sanctions and become friends with us again because they realize there is no other way,” Simonyan said. She said so in a panel discussion at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF), with Putin in the seat next to him.
Ukraine generates 12 percent of global wheat and barley exports, according to the British Foreign Office. Russia’s blockade is said to have kept more than 20 million tons of grain in storage.
The same Margarita Simonyan also made it clear last weekend in the TV show ‘Sunday evening with Vladimir Solovyov’ that Russia wants to change its narrative in Ukraine. She is said to have had several chats with President Putin during the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum and has now denied that Russia is fighting a war or even “a special military operation” – as Russia has called it since the invasion. She now spoke of a “civil war”, in which “Russia sides with the Russians”.
She has no mercy for those who turn against the Russian troops. “There is a significant number of Nazis and indoctrinated people that you can do little more with than to execute them according to the rules of the (self-proclaimed, ed.) Donetsk People’s Republic,” it sounded. Donetsk has the death penalty.
She also gave an explanation for why Russia is not hitting harder in major cities in Ukraine to gain the upper hand. “Putin said to me, ‘Do we want to turn those cities into Stalingrad?’ (One of the bloodiest battles in history was fought in Stalingrad in World War II, ed.) That’s right, our people are there too. They are our future cities. It is obvious. This is our country and our people. We will have to rebuild it later.”