US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, leading a UN debate on efforts to combat global hunger, zeroed in on Russia for disrupting the flow of food with its war on Ukraine and its withdrawal from an international grain deal.
(Bloomberg) — US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, leading a UN debate on efforts to combat global hunger, zeroed in on Russia for disrupting the flow of food with its war on Ukraine and its withdrawal from an international grain deal.
“We must address Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine and the resulting assault on the global food system,” Blinken said during a United Nations Security Council session on food security that the US convened.
The US billed the session as a broad call to address a crisis of hunger, as demand for food increases while climate change reduces supply. But Blinken emphasized in his remarks the effects of war in general and on Russia’s actions in particular.
“Every member of this council, every member of the United Nations, should tell Moscow, ‘Enough,’” Blinken said. “Enough using the Black Sea as blackmail. Enough treating the world’s vulnerable people as leverage. Enough of this unjustified, unconscionable war.”
Dmitry Polyanskiy, Russia’s deputy ambassador to the UN, countered later in the debate, saying of the US: “All that drives you is the desire to punish Russia in your pipe dreams of dealing it a strategic defeat.”
He said Western aid to the global south always comes with political strings attached. “The habits and methods of former colonizers have not changed — only the packaging has,” he said.
Blinken announced $362 million in new US funding to combat hunger in 11 African countries and Haiti and to increase their resilience to climate change and other shocks. He urged countries to fully fund the World Food Programme in its efforts to prevent hunger worldwide.
“While we welcome smaller countries punching above their weight, the world’s largest economies should be the world’s largest donors,” Blinken said. “For member states who consider themselves global leaders: this is your chance to prove it.”
More than 90 countries joined the US in signing a joint communique condemning the weaponization of food, Blinken said.
While the biblical directive to beat swords into ploughshares isn’t yet in reach, Blinken said, “we can at least commit not to use our swords to destroy others’ ploughshares.”
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