Bread and Power Games: EU on High Alert as Russia Aims to Leverage Cheap Grain for Strategic Influence
Bread and Power Games: EU on High Alert as Russia Aims to Leverage Cheap Grain for Strategic Influence

UNO: In a letter obtained by Reuters on Wednesday, the European Union warned developing nations that Russia is providing cheap grain "to create new dependencies by exacerbating economic vulnerabilities and global food insecurity."

Josep Borrell, the head of the EU's foreign policy, wrote to developing and Group of 20 nations on Monday to implore them to speak "with a clear and unified voice" in order to pressure Moscow to return to a deal that permitted the safe export of grain from Ukraine to the Black Sea and to stop attacking Ukraine's agricultural infrastructure.

In July 2022, the United Nations and Turkiye mediated the Black Sea Agreement to help alleviate a global food crisis brought on by Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Following Russia's exit from the alliance last month, Ukraine's ports and grain infrastructure along the Black Sea and Danube River came under attack, driving up grain prices globally.

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Russia is currently approaching vulnerable countries with bilateral offers of grain shipments at discounted prices, pretending to solve a problem it created itself, as the world deals with disrupted supplies and higher prices, Borrell said.

"This is a cynical policy of deliberately using food as a weapon to create new dependencies by exacerbating economic vulnerabilities and global food insecurity," he continued.

In order to fulfil what he described as Moscow's crucial role in ensuring global food security, Russian President Vladimir Putin said last week that Russia was prepared to replace Ukrainian grain exports to Africa on both a commercial and aid basis.

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Russia has stated that it would consider reviving the Black Sea Agreement if demands to increase its own exports of grain and fertiliser were satisfied. Reconnecting the Russian Agricultural Bank to the SWIFT global payments network is one of Moscow's top demands. It was cut off by the EU in June 2022.

"The EU has taken every precaution to make sure that sanctions don't affect the food security of third countries. According to Borrell, there are no restrictions on Russia's exports of food and fertiliser to other nations.

In addition, he listed some of the activities that "the EU has been fully committed to prevent over-compliance and de-risking."

In order to allow a branch of the Russian Agricultural Bank to regain access to SWIFT, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres stated last month that UN officials had "recently brokered a concrete proposal" with the European Commission.

That suggestion was left out of Borrell's letter. In order to revive the Black Sea grain deal, he declared that the EU would "continue to support the tireless efforts" being made by Turkiye and the UN.

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In a letter shared with his EU counterparts on Wednesday, Borrell stated that the letter was written "to counter Russian disinformation around global food security and the impact of EU sanctions."

Ahead of the yearly summit of world leaders at the UN in New York next month, he said, it was crucial that EU nations continue to advocate for food security with the rest of the world. A UN Security Council meeting on famine and the global food insecurity brought on by conflict is scheduled to be presided over by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Thursday.


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