Testimonies are multiplying in Ukraine which report the plundering of Ukrainian agricultural resources by the Russians. Many videos with Russian trucks loaded with grain driving in the direction of Crimea agitate social networks. The Minister of Agriculture also spoke on national television to denounce the theft of “several hundred thousand tons” stolen from the regions occupied by Kremlin troops.
If the phenomenon is proven, its extent remains difficult to determine. According to the Ukrainian authorities, the Russians have captured 400,000 tons of grain and 1.5 million tons are stored in silos located in the occupied territories. Moscow, for its part, formally denies all allegations of theft of wheat or corn.
According to several testimonies collected by CNN, Russians or Chechens first offer to buy the wheat at a derisory price – at 10% of its market value – and if the peasants refuse to give up their grain, then the occupiers seize it. purely and simply.
27 agricultural machines sent near Grozny
The looting of Ukraine also involves agricultural equipment. In Melitopol, equipment in a concession of the American manufacturer John Deere was stolen. The loot, estimated at nearly $5 million or 27 machines, was transferred to Grozny in Chechnya using Russian military equipment, according to CNN information.
State-of-the-art tractors and harvesters are, however, connected and equipped with GPS chips. John Deere was able to geolocate them and even deactivate them remotely. As it stands, none of these machines will be able to work the land.
Hackers would have been mobilized to circumvent the computer blocking of the machines. Even if the tractors could not circulate again, they constitute a source of welcome spare parts: since the beginning of March, John Deere has ceased all activity in Russia.
The Haunting of the Holodomor
The theft of agricultural equipment heightens the risk of Ukrainian production collapsing. Due to the conflict, farmers have not been able to sow as much wheat as planned. According to satellite images of Kayrros, the yield of the next harvest is expected to drop by 35% compared to the previous harvest.
Wheat theft has a particular resonance in Ukraine because in the early 1930s, a famine organized by Stalin decimated nearly 5 million Ukrainians. This dark period in the history of the USSR has been called the holodomor, “extermination by starvation”. Ukrainian wheat had been requisitioned by Stalin and the Ukrainian peasants forced to stay in their villages slowly died. The scarcity was such that cases of cannibalism were reported.