The Group of Seven major economies has warned that the conflict in Ukraine is fueling a worldwide food and energy crisis that threatens impoverished nations, and that immediate action is needed to unlock grain stocks that Russia is blocking from leaving Ukraine.
The conflict has become a “global crisis,” according to German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, who hosted a gathering of top G7 officials on Saturday.
Up to 50 million people, mostly in Africa and the Middle East, might go hungry in the next months, according to Baerbock, unless a mechanism is found to release Ukrainian grain, which makes up a significant portion of the global supply.
The G7 committed to deliver more humanitarian relief to the most needy in remarks published at the close of the three-day conference on Germany’s Baltic Sea coast.
“Russia’s war of aggression has generated one of the most severe food and energy crises in recent history which now threatens those most vulnerable across the globe,” the group warned.
“We are determined to accelerate a coordinated multilateral response to preserve global food security and stand by our most vulnerable partners in this respect,” the statement continued.
Melanie Joly, Canada’s foreign minister, said her nation, which is another big agricultural exporter, is ready to deploy ships to European ports to transport Ukrainian food to people in need.
She told reporters “We need to make sure that these cereals are sent to the world. If not, millions of people will be facing famine.”
The G7 countries also urged China to refrain from assisting Russia, including by undermining international sanctions or justifying Moscow’s actions in Ukraine.
They asserted that Beijing should support Ukraine’s sovereignty and independence rather than “assist Russia in its war of aggression.”
The G7 group, which includes Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States, also urged China to “to desist from engaging in information manipulation, disinformation and other means to legitimize Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine.”
Officials gathered at Waissenhaus, northeast of Hamburg, to address the war’s larger geopolitical, energy, and food security consequences, as well as ongoing international efforts to combat climate change and the pandemic.
In an interview published Saturday, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz stated that he had not noticed any recent changes in Putin’s posture.
Scholz told German news portal t-online that Putin had failed to fulfill the military objectives he set out at the outset of the conflict while losing more Russian soldiers than the Soviet Union did throughout its decade-long battle in Afghanistan.
Scholz was cited as stating, “Putin should slowly begin to understand that the only way out of this situation is through an agreement with Ukraine.”
One topic raised during the G7 summit was whether Russian state assets held in foreign countries might be used to fund Ukraine’s rehabilitation.
“Russia bears responsibility for the massive damage resulting from this war,” Baerbock stated. “And that’s why it’s a question of justice that Russia should have to pay for this damage.”