Russia was actively preparing to steal grain supplies and starve the Ukrainian population of food for months before Vladimir Putin ordered last year’s invasion, the new report by international human rights law firm Global Rights Compliance found, The Independent reports.
According to the report, when Russian tanks did roll across the border on 24 February 2022 they deliberately targeted grain-rich areas and food production infrastructure first.
GRC found that Russia's defence contractor began purchasing trucks to transport grain, as well as three new 170-metre bulk carrier cargo ships, as early as December 2021, evidence of advance planning for the pillage of Ukrainian food resources "on an unprecedented scale".
Russia began commandeering Ukrainian farms within less than a week of its invasion, and at its peak was exporting 12,000 tonnes of grain per day from across occupied territories.
The evidence of a "highly coordinated level of pre-planning" will be provided by to the International Criminal Court and GRC hopes it will lead to a first international prosecution against Putin for the war crime of starvation as a method of warfare.
It is "highly likely" Russia will be found guilty, Catriona Murdoch, a partner at Global Rights Compliance, and if so Putin could face another ICC arrest warrant to go with the one issued in March this year for the unlawful deportation of children from occupied Ukrainian territories.
"Moscow has sparked a global food crisis and attacked Ukraine's agriculture sector as a warfare tactic," Murdoch told The Independent.
The grain pillaged from Ukraine so far has an estimated market value of $1bn per year. Multiple private Ukrainian grain companies were forcibly incorporated into Russia's state operator, the GRC said.
A farmer in Zaporizhzhya in southern Ukraine said his grain farm was taken over by Russian forces five days after the full-scale invasion began.