Federal Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock has accused Russia of using the blockade of grain exports from Ukraine as a weapon of war. “By blockading Ukrainian ports, destroying silos, roads and railroads, and especially farmers’ fields, Russia has started a grain war that is fueling a global food crisis,” Baerbock said Wednesday during a foreign ministers’ meeting at the United Nations in New York.
According to information from the Federal Government, Russia in Ukraine is preventing the export of 20 million tons of grain, mainly to North Africa and Asia, a large part of it in the port of Odessa. Ukraine is one of the largest producers in the world.
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“Russia is not only waging its brutal war with tanks, rockets and bombs,” said the Green politician. “Russia is waging this war with another terrible but quieter weapon: hunger and deprivation.” This is happening at a time when millions of people in the Middle East and Africa are already at risk of starvation – due to the climate crisis, the Covid pandemic and regional ones conflicts.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres also increased the pressure on Moscow in view of historical numbers of starving people: “Russia must allow grain stored in Ukrainian ports to be safely exported,” said the 73-year-old.
It is necessary to bring the country back to the world market – just like Russia and Belarus, which also produce large quantities of food and fertilizer. The war Russia started threatens to plunge tens of millions into food insecurity and trigger a crisis “that could last for years”.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken called for a joint global effort. “It’s a crisis that requires a global response,” Blinken said. A big problem is the lack of fertilizers – incentives for their production must be created.
“Take Africa, where fertilizer costs have already quadrupled since the pandemic began and have continued to soar since the Russian invasion of Ukraine,” he said. After the Russian invasion of Ukraine, wheat prices rose to their highest level in 14 years.
Baerbock said the world’s poorest people would pay the price for Russia’s ruthless war. “I want to say to you from the bottom of my heart: We see your pain. We hear your suffering. And we are by your side.”
Overall, Germany is making 3.8 billion euros available for food security this year. In the long term, the effects of climate change on the agricultural sector in particular must be addressed: “We must help farmers become less vulnerable to droughts, floods or extreme rainfall.”