President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen delivered a special address this morning (Tuesday, May 24) in Davos, Switzerland, at the World Economic Forum, where she claimed Russia is using grain to ‘wield power’.
This year’s meeting is dominated by Russia’s war against Ukraine. President von der Leyen made clear that the war is not only a matter of Ukraine’s survival and European security, but is also putting into question the whole international order.
The president described how the EU is supporting Ukraine, imposing unprecedented sanctions against Russia, proposing €10 billion worth of macro-financial assistance to Ukraine and now, a reconstruction platform to be led jointly by the European Commission and Ukraine.
The platform invites global contributions from international financial institutions and from any country that cares about the future of Ukraine.
President von der Leyen also addressed the consequences for Europe in terms of energy and the urgent need to move away from Russian fossil fuels and accelerate the energy transition.
She said that the European Green Deal and REPowerEU are the way to get there.
Food security and supply chains
By working with partners like the US and Canada, von der Leyen said the EU will create more reliable and sustainable supply chains, both in energy and for raw-materials sourcing.
She also addressed the threat that the Kremlin’s war is posing to food security worldwide, claiming that Russia is weaponising food as it has done with energy, confiscating Ukrainian grain and blocking key ports.
The EU is working to get grain to the global markets, opening solidarity lanes linking Ukraine’s borders to European ports.
The EU is also supporting Africa to become less dependent on food imports.
Commission support for other countries
President von der Leyen announced that she is working with President El-Sisi of Egypt to address the repercussions of the war with an event on food security and solutions in Europe and in the region.
“In Russian-occupied Ukraine, the Kremlin’s army is confiscating grain stocks and machinery. For some, this has brought back memories from a dark past – the times of the Soviet crop seizures and the devastating famine of the 1930s,” von der Leyen stated.
“Today, Russian artillery is bombarding grain warehouses across Ukraine – deliberately. And Russian warships in the Black Sea are blockading Ukrainian ships full of wheat and sunflower seeds.
“It is time to end unhealthy dependencies. It is time to create new connections. It is time to replace old chains with new bonds. Let’s overcome this huge challenge in cooperation; in the Davos spirit,” von der Leyen concluded.