The development comes as the United States recently began averaging more than 100,000 new confirmed cases per day again, according to a New York Times database, for the first time since February.
The West is reluctant to risk a direct military confrontation with Russia, and the world’s food distribution network is already creaky because of pandemic-related supply disruptions.
Data from the federal government showed last year’s increase was the first since 2014, and followed a sharp drop in 2020, the first full year of the coronavirus pandemic.
Ursula von der Leyen, the European Commission president, said Russia has targeted Ukrainian grain supplies and blocked its food exports, while hoarding Russia’s own food stores to use as “blackmail.”
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