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Multidimensional crisis

 Both at the G7 summit and the Nato meeting, President Biden and other leaders have sought to demonstrate their resolve to keep punishing Russia.

Statesman News Service | New Delhi |

The striking feature of the G7 summit in Germany must be the renewed show of unanimity in the face of the war in Ukraine. Food security was at the centre of the discussions at the high table. It thus comes about that the United States of America and its Group of Seven allies have pledged $4.5 billion this year to help ensure food security the world over in an effort to address global food shortages caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The money will be used to ease what the grouping has called a “multidimensional crisis” that has rendered as many as 323 million people in the world at high risk of food shortages. This is said to be a record. The crisis is forbidding if the joint statement is any indication. “We reiterate our urgent call upon Russia to ~ without condition ~ end its blockade of Ukrainian Black Sea ports, destruction of key port and transport infrastructure, grain silos and terminals”.

And then the punchline ~ “These can only be assessed as a geopolitically motivated attack on global food security”. Geostrategy is a critical facet of G7’s exercise in summitry. Not the least because the United States and its western allies are trying to find new ways to tighten pressure on Russia and shore up the global economy. The imperative has been realised after four months of sanctions against the Kremlin. Military support for Ukraine has failed to apply the brakes on Russian aggression.

Both at the G7 summit and the Nato meeting, President Biden and other leaders have sought to demonstrate their resolve to keep punishing Russia. The war has driven up food and energy prices. International law and relations have seldom been more complex. Food prices the world over have surged ever since the Russian invasion. In consequence, Ukraine’s export of grain has been cut off.

It has also reduced shipments of wheat and oil from Russia. Ukraine and Russia together export about 30 per cent of the world’s wheat and 75 per cent of its sunflower oil. The endemic shortages could arguably drive as many as 40 million people into starvation. President Biden and the other leaders have rejected Vladimir Putin’s proposal to release the grain in exchange for sanctions relief.

Indeed, officials in Europe have accused Putin of war crimes for using food as a “negotiating tool”. The G7 pledge of $4.5 billion will scarcely meet the global shortages. However, a White House statement said that $2 billion of the US aid would be utilized for direct humanitarian intervention in places that are facing immediate hunger or famine.

The other $760 million will be invested in upgrading food delivery systems for the short and medium term. Among the issues that are as yet unresolved is an effort by the United States and its European allies to free Ukrainian grain that is trapped in the country by Russian blockades.