Brussels, 8 July 2022
Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine is dramatically aggravating the food crisis. In just 2 years, the number of seriously food insecure people in the world had already doubled from 135 million before the COVID-19 pandemic to 276 million early 2022, and 323 million today.
Now, with this unjustified and unprovoked, 1.2 billion people – one in six of the world’s population – are severely exposed to the combination of rising food prices, rising energy prices and tightening financial conditions.
Things can get worse. Russia is blocking 20 million tons of grains in Ukrainian storage facilities. This is a deliberate attempt to use food as a weapon of war, not only against Ukraine, but against the most vulnerable countries in the world.
Africa is the most severely affected region. Many countries heavily depend on grains and fertilizers from Russia and Ukraine. This food crisis is not caused by the European restrictive measures. The agricultural sector in Russia is not targeted. Our sanctions do not prohibit the import of Russian agricultural goods, or fertilizers, nor payment for such Russian exports.
The crisis is entirely caused by Russia’s actions: it has invaded a breadbasket of the world and it has turned the shipping lanes of the Black Sea into a war zone. There is an absolute urgency to act, and we work on four strands of action:
First, solidarity. The EU will mobilise over €7 billion until 2024 for the global food security response.Another priority is supporting food affordability by addressing the macro-economic stability of vulnerable countries.Second, production. We work to boost production capacity and resilience of food systems. We have lifted all constraints to facilitate the export of agricultural production in Europe.
Third, trade. As UN efforts on Black sea route are being stalled by Russia, we are achieving progress through EU ledSolidarity Lanes, helping Ukraine to export its grains via an alternative to the blocked ports: 2.5 million tons were exported in June, compared to 1 million in April. But it is costly and slow to address the issue.
An additional 50 million tons are expected with the next harvest. Freeing storage capacity becomes more and more urgent.
Finally, multilateralism. We should all commit to anchoring food security response in the multilateral system and to tie in with the UN’s Global Crisis Response Group.In the energy sector, too, restrictive measures are not the reason for high prices and a tight market. The real reasons are artificial supply shortages, especially of gas, by Russia.
We are strengthening engagement with our partners, through solutions that support stability in global energy markets, by maximising production capacities.
The green energy transition will be a key remedy for sustainable, and affordable energy worldwide. This crisis will force us to boost and accelerate this transition. We will also diversify energy supply by engaging in hydrogen partnerships with reliable partners.
An even quicker answer to many of these issues remains in the hands of one man: President Putin, who should stop this senseless war and avoid a global food and energy calamity.
Source – EEAS