Old tactics, it seems, die hard. The allusion — threat, really — by the deputy director of Russia’s Security Council, Dmitry Medvedev, to Moscow’s weaponization of food in its war in Ukraine certainly ups the ante.

“It turns out food is our weapon,” Mr. Medvedev warned on his Telegram channel Friday. “Quiet but ominous.” Referring to Russia’s $37 billion in agricultural exports, Mr. Medvedev continued: “We will supply food and crops only to our friends.”

What makes this threat so ominous is the history. For in the years 1932 and 1933, a famine swept across the Soviet Union. It began from collectivization, when millions of peasants were forced off their land and made to join state farms. It was exacerbated when, in 1932, the Soviet Politburo adopted a series of measures that deepened the deprivation in the Ukrainian countryside.

The state demanded grain and all available foods. Soviet propaganda depicted peasants as counterrevolutionaries who hoarded food as their socialist comrades starved — and so they became targets. Party activists entered peasant households and took everything edible. A cordon was drawn around the Ukrainian republic to prevent escape. The result was catastrophic: at least 5 million persons perished across the Soviet Union. Among them, some 4 million Ukrainians who had been deliberately deprived of food.

That is the context for Mr. Medvedev’s warning that Russia will “sell both for rubles and for their national currency in agreed proportions” and will not supply foodstuffs to its “enemies” and will not purchase from them, either. In 2014 Moscow imposed a ban on importing selected agricultural products from Europe and the West. That list, said Mr. Medvedev, “can also be expanded.”

In the 1930s, the peasants were the counterrevolutionaries. Today that could well be anyone on the opposite side of the Kremlin. “It turns out that we will eat breakfast by ourselves,” Mr. Medvedev opined at the conclusion of his Telegram exposé. “Perhaps we will share lunch with friends, and we will not give dinner to the enemies. We will manage.”