The editor-in-chief of the Russian state-controlled news channel RT appeared to welcome the prospect of a global famine caused by her country's grain blockade in Ukraine.
More than 20 million tons of grain are trapped inside Ukraine, traditionally one of the world’s top crop producers, after Vladimir Putin ordered the blockade of country's Black Sea ports, meaning it can't be exported.
Margarita Simonyan made her eyebrow-raising remarks on stage at the St Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF), the same function that Putin has been using to effectively threaten the west with nukes.
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The 42-year-old said she had heard several Russians say: "All our hope is in the famine."
"Here is what it means," she told the forum. "It means that the famine will start now and they will lift the sanctions and be friends with us, because they will realise it's necessary."
Global food prices are spiralling as a result of the grain blockade and The United Nations is trying to mediate a deal between Ukraine, Russia and Turkey to get the grain out, to no avail so far.
UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss warned there were only "a number of weeks" left to act.
She told the Commons: "We are backing the UN plan, but we are also doing what we can with our allies to provide safe passage, to make sure that Odesa is fully defended."
The blockade has left 100mn more people unable to meet their food needs, according to the IMF.
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Edward Lucas, a Russia expert at the Center for European Policy Analysis, said Moscow was “weaponising starvation” by keeping up the Black Sea blockage.
“Vladimir Putin’s most powerful weapon is not in his military arsenal. It is the threat of migration and unrest provoked by disrupting food supplies to Africa and the Middle East,” he added.
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