EXCLUSIVE: Editorial signed by HE Steven Mark Fisher, British Ambassador to Moldova. „Russia’s war against Ukraine is behind one of the most dramatic rises in food and energy prices in recent history”
Innocent Ukrainians are suffering the military effects of Russia’s war against their country, but innocent citizens of the entire world are suffering the economic effects. That includes Moldovans.
Record high prices for energy and food are directly due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The Kremlin’s immoral and disastrous decision to invade Ukraine has led inexorably to soaring inflation across Europe and the world. If you are struggling to make ends meet as inflation reaches 30% in Moldova, blame Vladimir Putin.
The Kremlin is weaponising food by blockading Ukrainian ports, shelling civilian infrastructure, and preventing Ukraine from exporting most of its produce. Prior to Russia’s invasion in February, Ukraine was one of the largest exporters of grain and vegetable oils, meeting the needs of hundreds of millions of people worldwide.
When Putin stops his bombardment of Ukrainian infrastructure and farms, when he ends his blockade of ports, then Ukrainian farmers can return to helping feed the world.
Food should never be a weapon. The World Food Programme estimates that if the war continues, up to an additional 47 million people could face acute food insecurity this year, bringing the total as high as 323 million.
Putin could alleviate the food crisis he has caused by immediately ending his war in Ukraine and enabling Ukraine to export its grain. Instead, he seeks to use food insecurity as a bargaining chip with which to force foreign governments to lift sanctions.
The international community is working hard to limit the damage caused by Putin’s actions. We must collectively hold Russia to account. We must present a united front, so that the Russian government understands that making millions of innocent people go hungry is unacceptable. We must make every effort to mitigate the consequences of the war until Russia changes course.
The UK strongly supports UN efforts to unlock the export of Ukrainian grain and find practical ways to open up commercial shipping routes. We are working with the EU to increase the volume of Ukrainian grain exported by rail. But the best solution would be for Russia to allow access to Black Sea ports by ending its blockade.
The UK stands firmly with those countries and people worst affected. We will continue to fund humanitarian aid and provide economic support to those that need it most, protecting them from the fallout of Russian aggression. We will provide humanitarian funding of £3 billion over the next three years. Yesterday, we announced £5m in additional support here in Moldova for Ukrainian refugees and their Moldovan host families. This donation will be managed directly by the UN World Food Program here in Chisinau.
We call on all countries to keep the food trade flowing. Any further restrictions on exports are likely to increase the pressure on global food supplies.
It is Putin’s war that is exacerbating the global food crisis, not the “West”, NATO or Ukraine. Of course, Russian media paints a different picture – blaming others for the food crisis. They blame “the West”, western sanctions, and Ukraine herself.
In the face of lies and disinformation emanating from the Kremlin, spread via tame and slavish media outlets, let’s not be deceived by Russian propaganda. Let’s instead be very clear about three things.
- Sanctions imposed on Russia by UK and others are not blocking grain exports.
- Our sanctions do not target food.
- Our sanctions do not prevent Russia from exporting its fertilisers or exporting grain to vulnerable countries.
The citizens and government of Moldova are doing their best to contribute to the well-being of the whole of Europe. For example, we welcome the quick work done by Moldovan and Romanian authorities to ease traffic at the borders.
It is Russia’s war that is directly preventing food from reaching the global market. Putin’s hunger for restoring the Russian Empire threatens to spread real hunger around the world, to millions of innocent people, and it is driving up the cost of living here in Moldova. In this sense, Putin is stealing from every Moldovan family.
Steven Mark Fisher
British Ambassador to Moldova