London/Geneva, Mar 18 (EFE).- The United Kingdom on Friday accused Russian president Vladimir Putin of deploying “barbaric tactics” during his country’s onslaught of the besieged Ukrainian city of Mariupol.
In an interview with Sky News, the UK’s minister for armed forces, James Heappey, added that Putin was to blame for any war crimes committed during Russia’s invasion which began on February 24.
“The Russians are indiscriminately using artillery and missile strikes to destroy a city that they were unable to take militarily and the resistance that remains there is courageous,” the minister said.
According to Heappy, the evidence collected so far points to war crimes being committed in Ukraine.
Some 1,000 people were thought to be sheltering in a Mariupol theater when a Russian airstrike hit the building on Wednesday.
The word children had been etched on the ground outside the theater before the shelling.
Water and food reserves in the southeastern city of Mariupol are scarce and supply chains are “falling apart”, the United Nations World Program (WFP) warned Friday.
“The only way to reach Mariupol is through humanitarian convoys, that until now have not made it through,” Jakob Kern, WFP’s emergency coordinator for Ukraine, said in a videoconference from Krakow, Poland.
Other partially “encircled” cities such as Kharkiv, Kyiv, Odesa and Sumy are receiving UN aid after the agency deployed supplies to feed 3 million people for a month, Kern added.
So far 12,000 tons of aid have been scattered across Ukraine, and a further 8,000 tons are on standby in nearby countries.
“The consequences of the conflict in Ukraine are radiating outwards and triggering a wave of collateral hunger across the globe,” the WFP official warned.
Russia and Ukraine account for almost 30% of world wheat exports, a staple food for many countries, and prices are up by 24% since the beginning of the year, according to the European Central Bank’s projection published Thursday.
Ukraine is the world’s fourth-largest wheat producer and is also among the top three in corn, barley and sunflower oil production, according to the WFP.
Kern said Africa and the Middle East, where Lebanon imports 60% of its wheat from Ukraine, were the most vulnerable regions in terms of food security.