Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and its blocking of both Ukrainian grain exports as well as restricting its own exports threaten to create a global wave of hunger, EU Foreign Affairs Chief Josep Borrell has alerted in a recent statement.
After years of the figure falling, the World Food Program (WFP) has released an estimate that the number of undernourished people has increased from 132 million people before the COVID-19 pandemic to 276 million in early 2022 and 323 million, partly as a result of the pandemic and the ongoing war in Ukraine, one of the most important “breadbaskets” of the planet.
Borrell further added, “The unjustified and unprovoked war of aggression against Ukraine puts the world in danger of a famine affecting hundreds of millions of people. We must urgently enable Ukraine to export its grains through the Black Sea.”
Importantly, EU sanctions do not restrict Russia from exporting agricultural goods, paying for such exports, or buying or exporting seeds, “provided that sanctioned individuals or entities are not involved.”
Borrell highlighted that, instead, it is an intentional political move by Russia to make hunger a byproduct of the battle, as well as a bargaining chip.
He stated that aside from blocking Ukraine’s ports, and preventing the export of millions of tons of grain to global markets, the Russian army is also shelling, mining and occupying arable land in the war-torn country, as well as attacking farm equipment, warehouses, markets, roads, and bridges.
“Russia turned the Black Sea into a war zone, blocking shipments of grain and fertilizer from Ukraine but also affecting Russian merchant shipping.”
Borrell stressed that Russia is also applying “quotas and taxes on its grain exports” to “weaponize” these exports and use them as a tool for blackmail against anyone that opposes its aggression.
He added that the EU is working closely with the UN on this issue and that he hopes that a solution can be found in the coming days. “Not doing this threatens to cause a global food catastrophe.”