Russia is employing a similar tactic with food supplies as it is with energy, and "weaponizing" the sector with global repercussions, Ursula von der Leyen told the World Economic Forum Tuesday.
The European Commission President said Russia’s invasion of Ukraine -- "the bread basket" of the world -- and the sanctions imposed against it in response has pushed up global prices of grain and fertilizer, triggering a food crisis.
The Russian army is confiscating grain suppliers and machinery in areas of Ukraine and blocking exports from ports in the Black Sea, von der Leyen said.
She urged the international community to come together to counter what she called Moscow’s "blackmail."
Her comments come hours after UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said deaths from food shortages due to Russia's invasion of Ukraine "could be even greater than the lives lost in the war directly."
Shapps said in a television interview Tuesday that he met with his Ukrainian counterpart Oleksandr Kubrakov last week in Germany to discuss how infrastructure could be put in place to ensure the grain leaves Ukraine.
Supplies from Russia and Ukraine account for nearly 30% of global wheat trade.