Russia's tactics since its invasion of Ukraine suggest that it is intent on generating "disruption and social unrest" in the wider world, Mairead McGuinness has said.
The EU commissioner for financial stability, financial services and capital markets union said that Russian president Vladimir Putin was targeting food production, food stores, and food producing equipment in his attacks in Ukraine.
“He’s hitting farm yards and silos and all of those things and that, in my view, is a deliberate effort to reduce the supply of vital grain for the global market, hitting the most vulnerable and therefore causing disruption and social unrest.”
Ms McGuinness told The Anton Savage Show on Newstalk on Saturday that the EU was currently working on a sixth package of sanctions in response to the invasion. She also said that Europeans had to be prepared that Russia would stop supplying them with fossils fuels any day now: "We have to be prepared for every possible scenario.
“In one sense we were aware that a war might happen – expected it not to – but we were preparing our sanctions team for example before the start of this year.
“So we have to be mindful that we do not know what goes on in the mind of Vladimir Putin.”
Speaking at a UN Security Council meeting on Thursday, US secretary of state Antony Blinken had demanded that Russia lift its blockade of Ukraine's Black Sea ports and enable the flow of food and fertiliser from Ukraine around the world.
“The Russian government seems to think that using food as a weapon will help accomplish what its invasion has not – to break the spirit of the Ukrainian people,” he said at the meeting called by the Biden administration.
“The food supply for millions of Ukrainians and millions more around the world has quite literally been held hostage by the Russian military,” he said.
Mr Blinken called on Russia to “stop threatening to withhold food and fertiliser exports from countries that criticise your war of aggression”.
Secretary general of the UN António Guterres also tweeted on Saturday that “when war is waged, people go hungry”.
“Sixty per cent of the world’s undernourished people live in areas affected by conflict.
“Connections between conflict and hunger mean that generosity is not only an act of altruism. Feeding the hungry is an investment in global peace and security.”