Sunak announces support to alleviate global impact of Putin’s weaponisation ahead of G20

Rishi Sunak.(photo:instagram)/IANS

New Delhi, Sep 8 (IANS) Global leaders must make it clear that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s withdrawal from the Black Sea Grain Initiative has increased Moscow’s global isolation and protect those whose lives have been devastated by his illegal war, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak will say as he travels to India for the G20 Summit on Friday.

According to a release from the British High Commission, families both in Ukraine and across the world continue to suffer as a direct result of Putin’s brutal invasion 18 months ago.

Russia has displaced 11 million people from their homes, manipulated global energy prices and made daily life more difficult for households across the planet.

In July, Putin demonstrated his indifference to the human consequences of his actions yet again when he withdrew from the Black Sea Grain Initiative.

Under this initiative, brokered in July 2022, ships carrying Ukrainian grain were freely able to transit from Black Sea ports without fear of attack.

The deal was providing a lifeline for millions of people around the world who depend on Ukrainian grain exports.

In its first year, the agreement enabled 33 million tonnes of food to reach those who needed it in 45 countries around the world.

Putin’s decision to rip up the initiative has reduced global grain supply at a critical time for vulnerable people –when prices rise, the poorest pay.

Since July, Russia has also damaged or destroyed at least 26 civilian port facilities, warehouses, silos and grain elevators.

These attacks have directly reduced Ukraine’s export capacity by one third and destroyed enough grain to feed more than 1 million people for an entire year.

On Saturday, G20 leaders will gather in Delhi to discuss the biggest challenges the world is facing, including the spike in the cost of living driven by Putin’s actions.

For the second year in a row, the Russian President is not expected to attend.

At the Summit, the British Prime Minister will stress the importance of those who do choose to attend demonstrating their leadership, both in helping the world’s most vulnerable people to deal with the terrible consequences of Putin’s war and in addressing wider challenges like climate change and the stability of the global economy, says the British High Commission release.

The Prime Minister will say: “Once again, Vladimir Putin is failing to show his face at the G20. He is the architect of his own diplomatic exile, isolating himself in his presidential palace and blocking out criticism and reality.

“The rest of the G20, meanwhile, are demonstrating that we will turn up and work together to pick up the pieces of Putin’s destruction.

“That starts with dealing with the terrible global consequences of Putin’s stranglehold over the most fundamental resources, including his blockade of and attacks on Ukrainian grain.”

Before Putin’s full-scale invasion, Ukraine was the world’s fifth largest wheat exporter, fourth largest corn exporter and third largest rapeseed exporter.

Grain ordinarily accounts for 41 per cent of Ukrainian export revenue, and almost two thirds of the grain exported by the country goes to the developing world.

Russia’s sudden withdrawal from the Black Sea Grain Initiative, and the consequent spike in global food prices, will cost lives around the world — further destabilising economies and putting people at risk of starvation.

The UK is spearheading efforts to help vulnerable people and economies deal with the impact of Putin’s actions.

The Prime Minister will announce that the UK will convene an international food security summit in November.

Supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, the event will bring together government representatives from across the world, including vulnerable countries, with international organisations, NGOs, researchers and private sector companies, to tackle the causes of food insecurity and malnutrition.

Since pulling out of the Black Sea Grain Initiative, Russia has declared that all ships transiting to Ukrainian Black Sea ports will be treated as military vessels — irrespective of the cargo they are carrying.

It has acted upon this assessment by firing shots and boarding a cargo ship bound for one of Ukraine’s Danube ports, action which may constitute a violation of International Humanitarian Law.

Alongside military efforts to deter Russian attacks, the UK will also contribute 3 million pounds in funding for the World Food Programme to continue work started under President Volodymyr Zelensky’s ‘Grain from Ukraine’ initiative, which was established in November last year to send Ukrainian grain to countries whose people are suffering from the high global price of staple foods.

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