As Russian forces continue to strike its neighbouring country, Ukraine, European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell, said that more than 323 million people are on the brink of starvation. Accusing Russian President Vladimir Putin of the current situation all over the world, Borrell said, at the ministerial meeting of the “Group of Twenty” in Indonesia that the number of people experiencing severe food shortages has doubled in the last two years.

According to him, before the COVID-19 pandemic, there were at least 135 million people who were facing an acute shortage of food and added the lethal virus pushed nearly 141 million people to face a severe crisis of food. However, he stressed that the figure inflated further to 323 million since the onset of the so-called “special military operation” against Kyiv.

.@g20org FM Meeting:

1.2 billion people are severely exposed to the combination of rising food and energy prices and tightening financial conditions.

Now, Russia is blocking millions of tons of grains in Ukrainian storage facilities, using food as a weapon of war.

(1/3) — Josep Borrell Fontelles (@JosepBorrellF) July 8, 2022

Not only against Ukraine, but against the most vulnerable countries in the world.

I stressed that as a matter of fact, this food crisis is not caused by any sanctions. But by Russia invading the world’s breadbasket and turning the shipping lanes of the Black Sea into a war zone — Josep Borrell Fontelles (@JosepBorrellF) July 8, 2022

G20 Ministers focus today on food and energy security and there is an absolute urgency to act.

We work on various strands of action, but the easiest solution remains with one man: President Putin, who should stop this senseless war to avoid a global food and energy calamity. — Josep Borrell Fontelles (@JosepBorrellF) July 8, 2022

“Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine is dramatically exacerbating the food crisis. In just two years, the number of people in the world experiencing severe food shortages has doubled from 135 million before the COVID-19 pandemic to 276 million at the beginning of 2022 and 323 million today,” European Pravda was quoted Borrell as saying.

Further, he maintained that every sixth inhabitant on the Earth has been facing an acute shortage of food due to a combination of soaring food prices, energy prices and deteriorating financial conditions.

“The situation may worsen. Moscow is thwarting 20 million tons of grain in Ukrainian storehouses. This is a purposeful attempt to use food as a weapon of battle not only against Kyiv but also against the most vulnerable countries in the world,” he added. Notably, major seaports have been blocked in Kyiv since the initial days of the Russia-Ukraine war. Since then, Ukraine has been exporting grains to the whole world by alternate routes. Earlier in May, the Russian Foreign Ministry said it would be ready to provide a humanitarian corridor to export Ukrainian crops across the Black Sea in exchange for lifting sanctions. However, the United States rejected Moscow’s proposal of unblocking Ukrainian ports.

Turkey & UN negotiating with Ukraine for export of grains from besieged ports

On Monday, July 4, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy confirmed he was in talks with Turkey and the United Nations to secure a green channel for the export of grains from the besieged ports. “Talks are in fact going on now with Turkey and the UN our representatives who are responsible for the security of the grain that leaves our ports,” Zelenskyy said during a press conference as he met with the Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson on Monday. According to Zelenskyy, it was crucial to engage other countries in the negotiations as Ukraine does not believe in Russia and its bogus claims. Besides, he said it was also significant for Ukraine to operationalise the blocked ports with an assurance of appropriate security.

Image: AP