WASHINGTON — One out of every six, or about 15%, of Ukrainian crop storage facilities have been destroyed, damaged or controlled by Russia and its aligned forces since it invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, according to the Conflict Observatory, an American non-governmental organization.
The Conflict Observatory, which establishes its conclusions through analysis of satellite imagery, said 344 grain facilities in Ukraine were studied, and 75 of them were classified as damaged.
Under international law, the deliberate and indiscriminate destruction of infrastructure where crops are stored can be considered a war crime, as well as a crime against humanity, the organization said.
Following the release of an independent assessment of the devastating impact of Russia’s war on food storage sites in Ukraine, the US Department of State, which supports the activities of the Conflict Observatory, on Sept. 15 called for further investigation through appropriate mechanisms.
“The United States will continue to firmly stand with Ukraine as it defends its freedom, for the sake of its own people and of people across the globe who rely on the harvests from Ukraine’s farmlands,” the agency said. “Our support for Ukraine remains unwavering.”
It added that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “unjustified war against Ukraine puts millions around the globe at risk of increasing food insecurity. The Kremlin’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, one of the world’s largest exporters of food, has led to the damage or outright destruction of many of Ukraine’s arterial roads, railways, ports, and food storage facilities that are essential to getting its agricultural goods to international markets. These actions guarantee that the pain of this war will also be felt by the world’s most vulnerable populations.”
In addition to limiting exports from Ukraine and destroying grain storage infrastructure, Russia’s invasion has led to decreased grain production in Ukraine.
The Foreign Agricultural Service of the US Department of Agriculture is projecting Ukraine’s 2022-23 wheat harvest to reach 19.5 million tonnes, well below last year’s output of 33 million tonnes.
Ukraine’s agricultural ministry recently estimated that winter wheat planting could decline from 4.6 million hectares in the 2021-22 season to 3.8 million hectares this year.