Putin weaponising Ukraine’s crops, Polish PM tells BBC

Krystian Maj/KPRM

Vladimir Putin has turned Ukrainian grain into a tool to blackmail the rest of the world, Mateusz Morawiecki, Poland's prime minister, has told the BBC at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

Morawiecki said in an interview with the British broadcaster that it was like what "Stalin did in 1933."

He was referring to the so-called Terror-Famine, which was orchestrated by the Soviet dictator, Joseph Stalin, and killed up to 10 million people, according to a joint statement issued in 2003 by 25 UN member states.

Morawiecki said that this was "part of (Putin's) strategy" in order to "create ripple effects in Northern Africa and huge migration waves."

The European Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen, told delegates in Davos that Russia was using "hunger and grain to wield power."

The Polish prime minister said he expected an EU embargo on Russian oil within days or weeks, with some temporary exemptions for the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Austria, the four EU countries that are highly dependent on Russian hydrocarbons.

The prime minister also called for the Nord Stream One gas pipeline from Russia to Germany to be shut down this year, similarly to its newer stretch, Nord Stream Two, which was never opened due to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Morawiecki said that "Russia is under real pressure" from the sanctions already in place, but warned that they will have their full effect in a mid- to long-term horizon.

Putin has hoped that high prices of energy will exert pressure on Western societies and force their leaders to seek a compromise, according to Morawiecki.

"We have to explain to the public what the consequences of the war are," he said. "Putin's main tool is intimidation, fear, illusions and propaganda."