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Don't blame us for the global food security crisis, Russia tells world

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A Ukrainian soldier walking through a field (Image courtesy: Twitter/@DefenceU)

As the chorus grows louder on the devastating consequences of the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict on global food security, Moscow has alleged that the "collective West" is trying to accuse it of provoking food shortages and labelling its 'special military operation' in Ukraine as the root cause of the crisis.  

Emphasising that the topic of ensuring food security in the conditions of turbulence in the world economy has already become the "subject of discussions at international platforms", Russia said that it won't "shy away" from a substantive discussion on the issue.

"Indeed, a crisis situation is developing in the world market of agro-industrial goods. The reasons for it are much deeper than they seem at first glance - they are associated primarily with miscalculations and accumulated systematic errors in the macroeconomic, financial, trade, and energy policies of Western countries," said Alexei Zaitsev, the Deputy Director of the Information and Press Department of the Russian Foreign Ministry.

"The Covid-19 pandemic has also taken its toll, disrupting established value chains," he added.

At a United Nations Security Council (UNSC) meeting on Ukraine in New York on Thursday, India too had highlighted the shortage of food grains and fertilizers, and challenges in food and energy security, making it clear that the conflict is having a destabilizing effect with broader regional and global implications.

"The food security challenges emanating from the conflict require us to respond by going beyond constraints that bind us presently," India's Permanent Representative to the UN, TS Tirumurti, said in his statement at the meeting.  

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who had also addressed the gathering, had stated that his meetings with the Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Moscow and Kiev last week had also focused on worldwide food security.

"A meaningful solution to global food insecurity requires reintegrating Ukraine's agricultural production and the food and fertilizer production of Russia and Belarus into world markets, despite the war," said Guterres while briefing the Security Council about his visit.

He added that the worldwide implications of ongoing war were in full view in his subsequent travels to West Africa.  

"In Senegal, Niger and Nigeria, I heard direct testimony from leaders and civil society on how the war is unleashing a food security crisis," mentioned the UN chief.

Also Read: Russia 'still open to dialogue' with Ukraine, Putin tells Macron

However, Moscow believes that the unprecedented rise in food prices being seen today are a direct result of the huge financial injections into the economies of developed countries to overcome the consequences of Covid-19 against the backdrop of runaway budget deficits, ongoing trade wars and numerous protectionist restrictions.

"Problems were added by the attempts of the West to force the transition to 'green energy' to the detriment of the 'traditional' sector of fuel and mineral raw materials. Rising energy prices have led to a collapse in the transport sector (freight rates have doubled), in some countries up to half of the heavy vehicle fleet has been laid up. The cost of mineral fertilizers has increased by 2.5-4 times over two years," Zaitsev told media in the Russian capital on Thursday.

He said that the general low level of food stocks, adverse weather conditions and general underinvestment in the industry has also played a major role in the crisis and the continuous rise in the cost of fuel and fertilizer has made the farmers reduce their crops.

"Against this background, unprecedented sanctions measures were introduced against Russia, expressed, among other things, in payment and logistical restrictions which hurt the agricultural producers. It became more difficult for them to service their foreign trade contracts. Of course, this leads to interruptions in the supply of food - both for export and to our country. It is not clear why all the responsibility for the consequences of this crisis lies solely with Russia," said Zaitsev.  

Russia, however, assured that it will continue to "conscientiously fulfill" its obligations under international contracts in terms of the supply of agricultural products and fertilizers.

Meanwhile, Putin's Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov said today that the Russian President, who has said in the past that sanctions against the country will deal a strong blow to the world economy, will hold a meeting on economic issues next Tuesday.

"He clarified that the head of state regularly gathers representatives of the economic bloc, the government, and the presidential administration in order to discuss the key points of the functioning of the country's economy," reported Russian state-owned news agency RIA Novosti on Friday.

Also Read: Will the Russia-Ukraine war trigger mass hunger on a global scale?