G7 warns Russia-Ukraine war stoking global food crisis

G7 warns Russia-Ukraine war stoking global food crisis

The Group of Seven leading economies have warned that the war in Ukraine is stoking a global food and energy crisis that threatens poor countries, and urgent measures are needed to unblock stores of grain that Russia is preventing from leaving Ukraine.

German foreign minister Annalena Baerbock, who hosted a meeting of top G7 diplomats, said on Saturday the war had become a “global crisis”.

Baerbock said up to 50 million people, particularly in Africa and the Middle East, would face hunger in the coming months unless ways are found to release Ukrainian grain, which accounts for a sizeable share of the worldwide supply.

In statements released at the end of the three-day meeting on Germany’s Baltic Sea coast, the G7 pledged to provide further humanitarian aid to the most vulnerable.

“Russia’s war of aggression has generated one of the most severe food and energy crises in recent history which now threatens those most vulnerable across the globe,” the group said.

“We are determined to accelerate a coordinated multilateral response to preserve global food security and stand by our most vulnerable partners in this respect,” it added.

Canada’s foreign minister, Melanie Joly, said her country, another major agricultural exporter, stands ready to send ships to European ports so Ukrainian grain can be brought to those in need.

“We need to make sure that these cereals are sent to the world,” she told reporters. “If not, millions of people will be facing famine.”

The G7 nations also called on China not to help Russia, including by undermining international sanctions or justifying Moscow’s actions in Ukraine.

Beijing should support the sovereignty and independence of Ukraine, and not “assist Russia in its war of aggression”, they said.

The G7, which comprises Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States, also called on China “to desist from engaging in information manipulation, disinformation and other means to legitimize Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine”.

The meeting in Waissenhaus, northeast of Hamburg, was billed as an opportunity for officials to discuss the broader implications of the war for geopolitics, energy and food security, and ongoing international efforts to tackle climate change and the pandemic.

In a series of closing statements, the G7 nations also addressed a wide range of global problems from the situation in Afghanistan to tensions in the Middle East.

On Friday, Ukrainian foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba appealed to friendly countries to provide more military support to Kyiv and increase the pressure on Russia, including by seizing its assets abroad to pay for rebuilding Ukraine.

Kuleba said his country remains willing to talk to Russia about unblocking grain supplies stuck in Ukraine’s silos and also about reaching a political agreement to end the war itself, but had so far received “no positive feedback” from Moscow.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said in an interview published Saturday that he had not detected any change in Putin’s stance recently.

Scholz, who spoke at length by phone with the Russian leader Friday, told German news portal t-online that Putin had failed to achieve the military objectives he set out at the start of the war while losing more Russian soldiers than the Soviet Union did during its decade-long campaign in Afghanistan.

“Putin should slowly begin to understand that the only way out of this situation is through an agreement with Ukraine,” Scholz was quoted as saying.

One idea discussed at the G7 meeting was whether Russian state assets frozen abroad can be used to pay for the reconstruction of Ukraine.

“Russia bears responsibility for the massive damage resulting from this war,” Baerbock said. “And that’s why it’s a question of justice that Russia should have to pay for this damage.”

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