The GuardianThe Guardian

‘We feed the world’: Ukrainian farmers warn of war’s global effects

By Luke Harding

12 Apr 2023 · 6 min read

Editor's Note

Ukraine's vital exports have suffered as fields become battle zones. To make matters worse, Russia is accused of sabotaging the Black Sea grain corridor. The Guardian's Luke Harding filed this report.

Driving in his battered car, Valerii Kotenko showed off the spot where a Russian missile had landed. It had fallen next to his wheatfield. “That was in December. Fortunately it didn’t explode,” he said. The enemy frequently bombed southern Ukraine, he said, and his home in Odesa oblast. “They shoot at us like crazy. The Russians target us because they are bastards. And because we feed the world.”

Ukraine’s farmers have had a tumultuous time since Vladimir Putin’s full-scale invasion began in February 2022. Kotenko’s 120-hectare (300-acre) estate is a short journey from the port of Odesa on the Black Sea, hit last week by 17 Iranian drones. The rockets arrive from all directions. Russian frigates fire from the waters around occupied Crimea. Other missiles come from the east and the Sea of Azov.

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