Zelenskyy calls for global hunger programme

The President of Ukraine has told the world’s business and political leaders that there needs to be a new system which will use the world’s food stocks to insure against the threat of hunger.

Volodymyr Zelenskyy addressed the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) annual meeting in the Swiss resort of Davos at which he said Ukraine proposed to create an organization of food-exporting states which would serve as a tool to combat hunger on the planet. He also called for sanctions to be toughened and accused Russia of stealing the country’s grain to sell illegally.

It came as proposals were raised for a multinational naval escort of Ukrainian grain vessels from the port of Odesa to protect the ships from the Russian naval blockade in the Black Sea. With the Ukrainian harvest just weeks away it is said the country will need to export 90 million tonnes of grain if global food shortages were to be averted.

“Any response to the mass famine is overdue by definition. The famine should be stopped only preventively – when it has not yet begun,” Zelenskyy told delegates. “But now there is no such tool in the world. We propose to create an organisation of responsible and democratic food-exporting states that can act with respect for human rights and global trade rules.”

According to the president no matter what the turning points in history, “humanity must have insurance against hunger”.

“And Ukraine is ready to provide a platform for the activities of such a new organization – a definitely needed one.”

In response to a question from the founder of the World Economic Forum Klaus Schwab, Zelenskyy called on the international community to help Ukraine unblock ports to avoid the global food crisis.

“You should know that grain is partly stolen every day by the Russian military, and then exported by ship to certain countries. We need to react very quickly. We at the level of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs work with the embassies of such countries, because if you understand where this grain comes from, where the Russian Federation transports it from, how can you buy it illegitimately just because it is sold to you almost for free,” he explained

During his speech, Zelenskyy also called for increased sanctions on Russia, without waiting for its next shot, “the use of chemical, biological and, God forbid, nuclear weapons”.

“Do not give the aggressor the impression that the world will not show enough resistance. Protect freedom and normal, useful for all peaceful order in the world immediately and in full! That’s what sanctions should be, Maximum,” he said.” So that Russia and every other potential aggressor who wants to wage a brutal war against a neighbour knows exactly what this is leading to. And I think there are no such sanctions against Russia yet. And they must be imposed.”

In particular, according to the president, there should be an embargo on Russian oil, a complete blockade of all Russian banks, abandonment of the Russian IT sector and the cessation of any trade with the aggressor.

He called on international companies to “fully withdraw” from the Russian market so that their brands, offices, accounts and commodities are not “used by war criminals in their interests”.

“Values must matter. Especially since everyone suffers losses when a full-scale war begins and global markets are destabilized due to someone’s neglect of values,” added Zelenskyy. “For our part, we offer every company that leaves the Russian market to continue operating in Ukraine. You will get access not only to our market of 40 million consumers, but also to the common market of Europe. And at the same time, your brands, positions will only be enhanced due to the fact that you really support the protection of freedom.”

“We must not be afraid to set new precedents,” he concluded. “This is exactly what the world has long had to learn at various turning points, for which it paid a high price. This was the price for the fact that the world only reacted, not acted preventively. So, now we can do it differently. Finally in the right way.”

The call for more sanctions  came as proposals were raised for a multinational naval escort of Ukrainian grain vessels from the port of Odesa to protect the ships from the Russian naval blockade in the Black Sea. With the Ukrainian harvest just weeks away it is said the country will need to export 90 million tonnes of grain if global food shortages were to be averted.

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