Sanctioned Russian fertilizer tycoon Andrey Melnichenko warned that attacks on his company may affect hundreds of millions

Sanctions imposed on Russian and Belarusian fertilizer producers are akin to weapons of mass destruction in the scale of the damage they will likely cause over the next few years, the founder of chemical giant EuroChem has claimed.

“The EU sanctions mean suffering, famine and migration flows for many hundreds of millions of people,” Andrey Melnichenko said in an interview with the Swiss newspaper Die Weltwoche on Thursday.

“Sanctions targeting food and energy are economic weapons of mass destruction. They hit innocent people the worst. I have no doubt that billions of people will feel its effects,” he warned.

Suffering people will want to hold those responsible accountable, and the EU won’t be able to shift its culpability, the businessman added. It was not Russia or the US, but EU members like Lithuania and Estonia, and also European leaders Germany, France and Italy, which chose to disrupt the operation of his chemical empire with sanctions, he explained.

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EuroChem, a leading fertilizer producer, is headquartered in Switzerland, where Melnichenko also lives with his family. The EU and Switzerland targeted the company and its owner with sanctions aimed at hurting the Russian economy in retaliation for Moscow’s offensive in Ukraine.

Melnichenko argued he personally was unjustly punished for being a rich Russian, dismissing claims that he had any influence on the Russian government. He warned of the catastrophic consequences that the “carpet-bombing” of the Russian economy will cause over a few years.

He assessed that EuroChem products helped feed almost 274 million people. With its fertilizers not produced and sold due to sanctions, the effect would be far worse than what is happening now over the cut in grain exports from Ukraine, he said.

“The G7 countries, with their one billion citizens, see themselves as the world’s moral leaders. But they have overridden the interests of the other seven billion people,” he said.

Russia and its ally Belarus, another target for Western sanctions, account for 17% of global fertilizer supply, the tycoon said. Exports from those two countries dropped by 30- 40% amid the stand-off with the West, and it’s the most vulnerable people, who are paying the price, he warned.

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“We don’t know whether people in the third world are already dying, or if they are ‘just’ starving and migrating away,” he said. With social tensions skyrocketing over hunger and fuel shortages, there will be a surge of violence, he predicted. “Perhaps jihad will raise its black flag again. These are not wild theories, but facts.”

Russia sent troops into Ukraine on February 24, citing Kiev’s failure to implement the Minsk agreements, designed to give the regions of Donetsk and Lugansk special status within the Ukrainian state. The protocols, brokered by Germany and France, were first signed in 2014. Former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has since admitted that Kiev’s main goal was to use the ceasefire to buy time and “create powerful armed forces.”

In February 2022, the Kremlin recognized the Donbass republics as independent states and demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join any Western military bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked.

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