Conflict, Humanitarian Crisis in Ukraine Threatening Future Global Food Security as Prices Rise, Production Capacity Shrinks, Speakers Warn Security Council
Country Has Gone from Breadbasket to Bread Line, Says World Food Programme Head; Local Pauses, Wider Ceasefires Key for Saving Lives, Relief Coordinator Stresses
The ongoing conflict in Ukraine has created not only an immediate humanitarian crisis, but also a threat to future global food security in the form of rising prices and decreased production capabilities, speakers told the Security Council today, underscoring the need to urgently address these issues against the backdrop of Russian and Ukrainian delegations meeting for negotiations in Istanbul.
Joyce Msuya, Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator, briefed the 15-member organ that, just over a month after the war in Ukraine started, “it shows no signs of abating”. According to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), 1,119 people have died — including 99 children — though the numbers are likely far greater. Civilians are trapped, desperate and afraid in besieged Ukrainian cities, lacking access to food, water and essential services. “In some neighbourhoods”, she pointed out, “it’s not even safe to bury the dead.” And more than 10 million people — including more than half of Ukraine’s children — have fled their homes.
“The global impacts of this war are becoming clearer as each day of this conflict continues,” she said, after detailing efforts by the United Nations and humanitarian organizations to respond to the crisis in Ukraine. The conflict threatens to exacerbate other crises – such as those in Afghanistan, Yemen and the Horn of Africa – as those countries and regions are already grappling with food insecurity and economic fragility. The rising prices of food, fuel and fertilizer will hit hard now and in the coming seasons. Urging that measures be found to save lives – from local pauses to wider ceasefires – she said that civilians are running out of food, energy and hope. Against that backdrop, she said that “our aim is simple: silence the guns and save lives”.
Also briefing the Council was David Beasley, Executive Director of the World Food Programme (WFP), who warned that Ukraine has turned “from a breadbasket to a bread line”. The food-chain system must be stabilized, as Ukraine and the Russian Federation account for 30 per cent of the global wheat supply, 20 per cent of the corn supply and 70 to 80 per cent of the sunflower-oil supply. Yemen, Egypt and Lebanon depend on Ukrainian grain, and he expressed concern over food pricing and availability if the loss of fertilizer-based products coming from the Russian Federation and Belarus cannot be offset. “The last thing the WFP wants to do is take food from hungry children to give to starving children,” he said, adding: “Please, let’s make sure we can reach them all”.
In the ensuing discussion, many Council members underscored the need to ensure safe, unimpeded access for humanitarian organizations in Ukraine so they can deliver assistance to those who need it most. They also spotlighted the conflict’s negative effects on global food security and called for a cessation of hostilities to alleviate both current and future suffering. Others highlighted the harm that economic sanctions pose to all countries, regardless of whether they are party to the war in Ukraine. Still others drew attention to the plight of refugees and internally displaced persons fleeing combat areas, noting that conditions are optimal for human trafficking and sexual and gender-based violence.
The representative of France, pointing out that the Russian Federation’s aggression against Ukraine is increasing the risk of famine around the world, said that the former country will “no doubt try to make us believe” that sanctions adopted against it are creating an imbalance in global food security. However, the Russian Federation is solely responsible, and the unjustified war it unleashed has prevented Ukraine from exporting grain, disrupted global food supply chains, raised prices and jeopardized access to foodstuffs for the most vulnerable. The European Union’s sanctions against the Russian Federation do not target agricultural activity in that country, he added.
The Russian Federation’s delegate, noting Western statements that his country’s activities in Ukraine have caused a global food crisis, said that the real reason for this crisis is the “unbridled sanctions hysteria” unleashed against the Russian Federation. Further, it is “hard not to marvel” at the inconsistency of today’s calls for humanitarian truces, access and pauses as, on 23 March, a majority of Council members rejected a draft resolution put forward by the Russian Federation that contained specific steps to facilitate humanitarian assistance in Ukraine. While Western States did not support this resolution, the Russian Federation is one-sidedly implementing humanitarian obligations it has taken upon itself.
China’s representative also expressed concern over the impacts of sweeping sanctions being felt in developing countries, which are not party to the conflict. Such sanctions negatively affect global food security, and he called for measures to keep the food market working. United Nations entities — including the WFP, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Trade Organization (WTO) — should actively help developing countries to survive these shocks.
The representative of Ghana echoed that point, expressing concern over the “transmission of the shocks of the war” to the global economy and their disproportionate impact on developing countries and small economies. To ameliorate this situation, she called for urgent international solidarity on the issues of sovereign release of excess food stocks and calibrated intervention in the oil market, along with new debt initiatives and financial-access mechanisms to help maintain global stability.
“There is a clear nexus between hard security, the humanitarian situation and food security with regard to the Russian war against Ukraine,” stressed Ukraine’s delegate. The Russian Federation envisages destroying Ukraine’s agricultural potential to cow its leadership and people into surrender. While humanitarian assistance is urgently needed, the international community should bear in mind that the humanitarian disaster in Ukraine is an element of the Russian war strategy. “Putin is not the first dictator to weaponize food against the Ukrainian nation,” he pointed out, recalling that Joseph Stalin killed millions of Ukrainians 90 years ago in the artificially organized Great Famine.
Also speaking were representatives of Mexico, United States, Kenya, Ireland, Norway, India, United Kingdom, Albania, Gabon, Brazil and the United Arab Emirates.
The representatives of the United States and the Russian Federation took the floor a second time.
The meeting began at 3:04 p.m. and ended at 5:20 p.m.
JOYCE MSUYA, Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator, briefed the Council that, just over a month after the war in Ukraine started, “it shows no signs of abating”. Children, women and men are being killed, injured, displaced and traumatized, while hospitals, homes and schools are being destroyed. According to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), 1,119 people have died — including 99 children — and “we know these numbers are conservative and the tolls are far greater”. People are trapped, desperate and afraid in encircled, bombarded Ukrainian cities like Mariupol, Kharkiv and Chernihiv, lacking food, water, medicine, electricity and heating. “In some neighbourhoods, it’s not even safe to bury the dead,” she said. And more than 10 million people — including more than half of Ukraine’s children — have fled their homes.
“Our work is to save lives,” she underscored against that backdrop. Since 24 February, humanitarian organizations have reached around 890,000 people across Ukraine — mostly in the eastern part of that country — providing food, shelter, blankets, medicine, bottled water and hygiene supplies. While humanitarian logistics and supply chains are scaling up every day, security risks and access challenges are hindering these efforts, as many routes are disrupted due to shelling, fighting and landmines. Noting that there are now more than 1,230 United Nations personnel in Ukraine and over 100 humanitarian organizations implementing or planning activities across that country, she said that “Ukraine is a humanitarian paradox: side by side with extreme violence we see extreme kindness, profound solidarity and the gentlest of care”.
She went on to say that civilians in Ukraine desperately need this humanitarian assistance and protection. All parties must ensure safe, unhindered humanitarian access to help civilians in their homes and on the road and must allow those who want to leave to do so. Further, detailed, realistic agreements are needed on humanitarian ceasefires and pauses to allow aid in and people out. Also pointing out that the war in Ukraine is an opportunity for predators and human traffickers, she said that protection services are being scaled up not only at the borders, but also in country to ensure that people have information on safe options and routes, along with access to helplines and safe shelter.
“The global impacts of this war are becoming clearer as each day of this conflict continues,” she pointed out, noting that the conflict threatens to exacerbate other crises, such as those in Afghanistan, Yemen and the Horn of Africa. Such countries and regions are already grappling with food insecurity and economic fragility, and rising prices for food, fuel and fertilizer will hit hard now and in the coming seasons. “We will all be affected,” she stressed. Urging that measures be found to save lives — from local pauses to wider ceasefires — she said that civilians are running out of food, energy and hope. In the light of that, she said: “our aim is simple: silence the guns and save lives”.
DAVID BEASLEY, Executive Director of the World Food Programme (WFP), said that the humanitarian situation in Ukraine is a “catastrophe on top of a catastrophe” and warned that Ukraine has turned “from a breadbasket to a bread line”. WFP is currently reaching 1 million people and hopes to reach 6 million by the end of June. The situations in the Sahel, northern Africa, and the Middle East cannot be ignored, or there will be massive migration on all sides of Europe, he cautioned.
The food chain system must be stabilized, he said, noting that the farmers of Ukraine are on the front line fighting. It is planting season for maize right now, while June and July are the harvest season for wheat. Ukraine and the Russian Federation account for 30 per cent of the global supply for wheat, 20 per cent of the supply of corn, and 70 or 80 per cent of the supply of sunflower oil. Yemen, Egypt and Lebanon are dependent on Ukrainian grain, he said, stressing that the problem will be compounded with the lack of fertilizer-based products coming out of the Russian Federation and Belarus, which will result in a 50 per cent drop in yields. He expressed his concern over food pricing and availability if these losses cannot be offset. “There will be difficult months ahead,” he said. The famine destabilization of nations and mass migration must be avoided. “The last thing the WFP wants to do is taking food from hungry children to give to starving children,” he said, adding: “Please, let’s make sure we can reach them all.”
NICOLAS DE RIVIÈRE (France), noting that the humanitarian situation in Ukraine is worsening by the day, recalled that the General Assembly recently demanded — “with a crushing majority” — the immediate cessation of Russian hostilities against Ukraine. He stressed that the Council must also assume its responsibilities “given the humanitarian drama unfolding before our eyes”. Civilian populations and infrastructure, along with medical and humanitarian personnel, must be protected. Further, full humanitarian access must be guaranteed, and those civilians in cities under attack should be able to leave the combat area safely and freely, should they wish to do so. Pointing out that the Russian Federation’s aggression against Ukraine is increasing the risk of famine around the world, he said that the former country will “no doubt try to make us believe” that sanctions adopted against it are creating an imbalance in global food security. However, the Russian Federation is solely responsible, and the unjustified war that it unleashed has prevented Ukraine from exporting grain, disrupted global food supply chains, led to an increase in prices and jeopardized access to foodstuffs for the most vulnerable. The European Union’s sanctions against the Russian Federation do not target agricultural activity in that country, he added.
JUAN RAMÓN DE LA FUENTE RAMIREZ (Mexico) expressing particular concern over the fact that 90 per cent of the refugees and internally displaced persons from and in Ukraine are women and children, said that these individuals risk becoming victims of trafficking, exploitation and sexual or gender-based violence. The war in Ukraine also has significant consequences for global food security, which will manifest in serious immediate and medium- to long-term effects. Noting that 1 million people in Ukraine have benefitted from transfers of funds and distribution of food, he said that these measures — though necessary — only constitute temporary relief. Many logistical difficulties hinder the delivery of humanitarian assistance to where it is most needed — including limits on fuel, transportation and drivers — and now, with the closing of major ports, the situation has become even more onerous. The situation in some cities — like Mariupol — is acute, and he called for secure, unimpeded access for humanitarian personnel. He also expressed concern over the proliferation of weapons in Ukraine and stressed the need to examine to what extent such weapons will exacerbate the humanitarian situation in that country.
WENDY SHERMAN (United States) said that it has been five weeks — though it feels like a lifetime — since President Vladimir Putin launched his unjustified and brutal invasion of Ukraine. In just five weeks, nearly a quarter of Ukraine’s population has been displaced, including nearly half of the nation’s children. WFP is warning that 45 per cent of the people of Ukraine are concerned about having enough to eat. The Russian Federation’s bombardment of Ukraine’s cities and infrastructure has created one of the fastest-growing humanitarian crises in decades. In Mariupol, in the depths of winter, people are without food, heat and drinking water. One mother said that she could only feed her three daughters a spoonful of honey a day. City officials are saying that city inhabitants are beginning to die of starvation. “Its residents are dying because of President Putin’s war of choice,” she said. The impact is felt beyond the borders of Ukraine, with dangerous implications for the world’s food security. Food prices are skyrocketing in low- and middle-income countries as the Russian Federation chokes off Ukrainian exports. Lebanon, Pakistan, Yemen and Morocco are among the countries that rely heavily on Ukrainian imports to feed their populations. The world was already facing a food security crisis well before the invasion, she said, noting that the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting economic crisis has pushed families into poverty. Countries around the world are experiencing drought and the impact of climate change. The Russian Government blames sanctions for increasing food prices around the world, but sanctions are not preventing grain from leaving Ukraine’s ports — Putin’s war is, she said, stressing that the international community must come together to provide food, water and shelter for the people of Ukraine.
MARTIN KIMANI (Kenya) said that the war in Ukraine is a humanitarian catastrophe. The speed with which the situation has deteriorated, the shockingly high number of fatalities on both sides is a reminder of the carnage that the world has only read about in history books. It is not only Ukrainians who have fled from the bombings. Thousands of Africans who travelled long distances to seek their education in Ukraine are now fleeing before the tanks and bomber planes sent into Ukraine. “They have turned from hopeful students to fearful refugees,” he said. All actors must prioritize the protection of civilians and objects indispensable to their survival, in accordance with international law, he said, calling for the urgent activation of safe passages with no restrictions. The response to the crisis has shown how the world can react with solidarity. He urged the European Union and its members to offer every support to the African students who have fled Ukraine. They should be able to further their education in other countries, as well as getting the material and mental health support that they need, he said.
GERALDINE BYRNE NASON (Ireland) expressed concern over the increasing vulnerability of refugees and internally displaced persons as the war in Ukraine continues. Reported deportations — “or, quite frankly, abductions” — of Ukrainian citizens taken forcibly across the border into the Russian Federation are horrifying, she said, and the war has also offered optimal conditions for human traffickers to prey on fleeing women and children. Only the Russian Federation can prevent further deterioration of the humanitarian situation it has caused, she stressed. She also spotlighted the war’s multiplier effect on food insecurity, compounding existing challenges such as droughts, floods and conflict elsewhere that were already increasing prices and squeezing supply chains. Lives are being lost due to the food insecurity caused by this war and, even if it were to end immediately, it will result in lives lost from hunger in the future. Stressing that the international community and the Council “must not be numbed to the ongoing tragedy in Ukraine”, she said that this war can end “if the Russian Federation has the will to end it”. “It is never too late to do the right thing,” she added.
VASSILY NEBENZIA (Russian Federation), noting the many calls today for humanitarian truces, access and pauses, said that it is “hard not to marvel at your inconsistency”. On 23 March, a majority of Council members rejected a draft resolution put forward by the Russian Federation that contained specific steps to facilitate the work of humanitarian organizations in Ukraine. It would have saved lives, mandating that heavy weapons not be used in residential areas, that civilians not be used as human shields and that prisoners be treated humanely. He said that “Ukrainian Nazis and radicals” are using civilians as human shields and mistreating Russian soldiers held prisoner; however, the Russian Federation is strictly complying with its international obligations and there is “no threat to Ukrainians who put down their arms”. Although Western States did not support the draft resolution in the Council, the Russian Federation is one-sidedly implementing humanitarian obligations it has taken upon itself, establishing humanitarian corridors, delivering essential goods to those in need, hosting refugees and coordinating with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to facilitate prisoner exchanges. Turning to Western statements that a global food crisis is being caused by the Russian Federation’s activities in Ukraine, he said that the real reason for this crisis is the “unbridled sanctions hysteria” unleashed against his country. Western States are themselves capable of preventing hunger and food shortages, he stressed, “no matter how much they try to shift blame” to the Russian Federation.
MONA JUUL (Norway) called for a humanitarian ceasefire in Ukraine, welcoming the Secretary-General’s initiative to request Mr. Griffiths to work directly with the parties on a possible agreement. She also welcomed the renewed dialogue today between the parties and hope this will establish the trust needed for an early agreement on the cessation of hostilities. Her delegation is concerned by the increased risk of sexual and gender-based violence. Moreover, immediate action must be taken to shield children in Ukraine from the harms of conflict. The massive displacement and refugee flows have led to reports of a significant increase in human trafficking. Ukraine has been set back decades in its economic development, with over 60 per cent of its citizens at risk of falling below the poverty line within 12 months. The ripple effects will be particularly felt in Syria, Yemen, Afghanistan, Ethiopia and South Sudan, she said, welcoming the Secretary-General’s initiative to establish a “Global Crisis Response Group on Food, Energy and Finance”. Russian Federation’s aggression undermines global economic development, peace and security.
T.S. TIRUMURTI (India) said amid the dire humanitarian situation, his country has already sent over 90 tons of humanitarian supplies to Ukraine and its neighbours, including medicines, tents, medical equipment and other essential relief material for refugees. India will provide more humanitarian assistance in the coming days, especially through supply of essential medicines. Humanitarian action must always be guided by the principles of humanitarian assistance, namely humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence. These measures should not be politicized, he stressed, reiterating calls for immediate cessation of hostilities across Ukraine. The global order must be anchored on international law, the United Nations Charter and respect for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of States, he said, calling for purposeful engagement by both sides in the ongoing talks.
CAROLYN OPPONG-NTIRI (Ghana) expressed her concern over the continuing military bombardment of cities and civilian populated areas of Ukraine. Never has it been more necessary than now for the parties to the conflict to urgently commit to a humanitarian pause to enable the evacuation and safe passage of civilians and to facilitate the delivery of food, medicine and other essential services to those in critical need who have been caught up in cities under siege. She expressed her concern over the “transmission of the shocks of the war” to the global economy and the disproportionate impact that developing countries and small economies are having to bear on account of the war. She called for urgent international solidarity on the issues of sovereign release of excess food stocks and calibrated intervention in the oil market, as well as new debt initiatives and financial access mechanisms to help maintain global cohesion and stability.
BARBARA WOODWARD (United Kingdom) said that 10.3 million people have been displaced in Ukraine. There have been 73 confirmed attacks on hospitals and medical centres and 659 schools and kindergartens damaged. “The situation in Mariupol is almost beyond description,” she said, stressing that civilians there do not have enough food or water. She also noted credible reports of mass graves and forced deportations of residents to the Russian Federation, as well as incidents of sexual violence. “There will be accountability for these crimes,” she said. There is an urgent need to alleviate humanitarian suffering in Ukraine and the United Kingdom will continue to play its part. It has provided £400 million to support Ukraine, including £220 million in humanitarian aid. Global commodity prices were already on the rise before the invasion, she said, underscoring that global food insecurity will hit the most vulnerable the hardest. “Russia’s appetite for war is taking food off the table,” she said. For the suffering to end, the bullets and bombs of the Russian Federation must stop.
FERIT HOXHA (Albania) said that Mariupol, savagely battered into rubble and reduced to ashes, symbolizes the extreme brutality of the Russian invasion. In the words of the city’s mayor, the Russian Federation’s aim is to wipe the city off the face of the Earth along with its inhabitants. “There is a legal definition for this practice,” he said. The invasion of Ukraine has caused major implications for food security across the world. It has plunged global food and energy markets into turmoil, raising food prices and inflicting severe difficulties on developing countries. Troubling facts confirm that the Russian Federation has replaced the right to information with the freedom of disinformation. Novaya Gazeta, one of the largest independent investigative newspapers in the Russian Federation, announced that it was forced to halt publication after being issued a warning from the Government. “You cannot tell the truth, they were told, you cannot speak of war,” he said. Everything must be done to ensure accountability of every war crime committed in Ukraine. “Russia wanted all Ukraine,” he said. “It learned the hard way it will not get it. Now it wants to divide it and grab a part”.
MICHEL XAVIER BIANG (Gabon) said that the war in Ukraine is entering its second month. Beyond the words and condemnations heard, it is urgent to respond to the distress of the Ukrainian people and all those who suffer alongside them. The humanitarian issue should not be considered in isolation and it should not be politicized, which would only serve to distance the Council from its goal. Appealing to the neighbouring countries of Ukraine, he asked that they grant the same welcome to all people in distress without distinction of origin or race, including African nationals and students. Gabon is attentive to the negotiations currently under way between the parties, especially in Istanbul, he said, expressing hope that they will lead to an immediate ceasefire and create a climate of trust. He then called on the warring parties and all stakeholders to engage resolutely on the path towards a political resolution.
RONALDO COSTA FILHO (Brazil) said unilateral sanctions are not only illegal under international law but jeopardize access to products essential to the survival of a large portion of the world’s population. In the end, they tend to be heavily detrimental to developing countries, while some developed countries can guarantee the well-being of their own populations through sustained funds during the next years. The General Assembly has recently adopted a resolution about the humanitarian situation in Ukraine, with the support of Brazil. In the explanation of vote, his delegation highlighted that the 193-member organ could not become a bystander of the shocking images from the conflict and the desperation of civilians trapped in the battlefield. “Neither can the Security Council,” he said, adding that as the main United Nations organ tasked with the maintenance of international peace and security, the Council has the mandate and the responsibility to address this situation in an effective manner.
DAI BING (China), urging respect for international humanitarian law and avoidance of civilian casualties, called for action to ensure supplies of food, medicines and other basic needs, based on the principles of humanity, impartiality, independence and neutrality. His country is cognizant of the impacts of sweeping sanctions felt in developing countries, which are not party to the conflict. Noting the sanctions’ negative impacts on global food security, he called for measures to keep the food market working. The United Nations entities, including WFP, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Trade Organization (WTO), should actively help the developing countries survive the shocks. Dialogue and negotiations are the only way to resolve the conflict, he said, encouraging direct talks between Ukraine and the Russian Federation. The United States, North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the European Union should engage with Moscow on discussing a balanced security architecture in the region.
LANA ZAKI NUSSEIBEH (United Arab Emirates), Council President for March, speaking in her national capacity, expressed support for the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs’ efforts to create a humanitarian notification mechanism for the safe delivery of aid. Her country reiterates the importance of all parties complying with international humanitarian law, especially to protect civilians, limit military operations to exclusively military objectives and take all precautionary measures. She then called for intensifying diplomatic contacts between the two parties to find a peaceful solution, noting the positive reports from the talks in Turkey today, as well as other ongoing mediation efforts. In this context, she stressed the important role of women in conflict resolution and peace negotiations. Ukraine and the Russian Federation together are a critical breadbasket for the world. The rising food insecurity is wreaking havoc on pandemic recovery, particularly for developing, least developed, and small island developing States. In the Middle East and Africa, the conflict jeopardizes significant sources of wheat, including for many countries on the Council’s agenda. This could lead to further unrest and instability around the world, she warned.
Ms SHERMAN (United States), taking the floor for a second time, said that the conflict is not about the Russian Federation versus the West. Some 140 countries spoke last week in support of ending the crisis, while 141 supported the first resolution in the General Assembly to say that the invasion by the Russian Federation should stop. She said that, as a Jewish-American, it was not about Nazis in Ukraine. Last week, the former United States Secretary of State and former Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Madeleine Albright, died. Later in her life, Ms. Albright learned that her parents raised her as a Catholic to protect her from the Nazis, because her family was Jewish, and that three of her grandparents died in concentration camps. She knew that the Jewish President of Ukraine was certainly not a Nazi and that the citizens of Ukraine being slaughtered and starved are not — and never were — Nazis. There is an easy choice today, she said. It is a choice that can be made today by President Putin in Istanbul and that is to stop the war.
DMITRY A. POLYANSKIY (Russian Federation) said he wished to respond to the comments made by the representative of the United States. “On Nazism in Ukraine, it has already become a common excuse when people say that the Ukrainian president is Jewish, so he can’t be a Nazi,” he said, adding: “I won’t try to convince you of the opposite. I will just say it’s a fact”. He said that the United States representative knew who Stephan Bandera was and how many bad things people did who collaborated with Nazis. Mr. Bandera is a national hero of Ukraine and the national battalions have Nazi symbols in their insignia, he said.
SERGIY KYSLYTSYA (Ukraine) said that today’s negotiations in Istanbul have demonstrated that the Russian Federation may be ready to make steps forward, although it is still a long way to a sustainable ceasefire and comprehensive de-escalation. As of now, that country has demonstrated no willingness to give up its strategy of deliberate aggravation of the humanitarian situation on the ground. “There is a clear nexus between hard security, the humanitarian situation and food security with regard to the Russian war against Ukraine,” he stressed, and the Russian Federation envisages destroying Ukraine’s agricultural potential to intimidate its political leadership and people to surrender. “The toolbox is broad and extremely cruel,” he noted, and includes the deliberate destruction of residential areas and critical infrastructure, missile shelling throughout the country, the siege of cities, violation of humanitarian-corridor arrangements and terror against civilians. While humanitarian action is urgently needed, the international community should bear in mind that the humanitarian disaster in Ukraine is an element of the Russian war strategy. Any initiatives should focus on changing this approach, rather than “idle attempts to engage the aggressor as a partner on the humanitarian track”, he stressed. “Putin is not the first dictator to weaponize food against the Ukrainian nation,” he added, recalling that Joseph Stalin killed millions of Ukrainians 90 years ago in the artificially organized Great Famine.