The climate crisis, the pandemic and the war in Ukraine have led to a global food crisis. Foreign Minister Baerbock and UN chief Guterres address Russia in clear words.

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. “This threatens to brew a global food crisis that has never existed before,” said the Green politician on the sidelines of the event.

Federal government: Russia prohibits grain exports

According to information from the federal government, Russia is preventing the export of 20 million tons of grain from Ukraine, primarily to North Africa and Asia, most of it in the port of Odessa. Ukraine is one of the largest grain producers in the world. The US had put the deliberations on food insecurity on the UN agenda and invited more than 30 countries. Secretary of State Baerbock spoke as co-host.

“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 in the Middle East and Africa are already at risk of starvation – due to the climate crisis, the Covid pandemic and regional conflicts.

Guterres increases pressure on Moscow

UN Secretary-General António Guterres also increased the pressure on Moscow in view of historical numbers of hungry people: “Russia must allow the safe export of grain stored in Ukrainian ports,” 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”. Guterres indicated that he is in contact with Russia and other key countries to find a solution for grain exports from Ukraine. He did not give any details so as not to “endanger the chances of success”.

Blink: Crisis requiring global response

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 tell you from the bottom of my heart: We see your pain. We hear your suffering. And we’re 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 must be addressed in particular: “We must help farmers to become less vulnerable to droughts, floods or extreme rainfall.”

Global hunger hits new high

According to the United Nations, global hunger has reached a new high. The number of people with severe food insecurity has increased in the past two years from 135 to 276 million today. More than half a million people are at risk of starvation – five times more than in 2016. The war in Ukraine is fueling this development: together, Ukraine and Russia produce almost a third of the world’s wheat and barley and half of the sunflower oil .