On 26 November, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced the European Commission would pay for the transportation of 40,000 tons of Ukrainian grain on two ships, as part of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s ‘Grain from Ukraine’ initiative.
This will be on top of the 28 million tons of agri products shipped via the EU’s Solidarity Lanes and the Black Sea Grain Initiative, von der Leyen added.
Ukraine launched the ‘Grain from Ukraine’ initiative at the International Summit on Food Security, organized in Kyiv on the anniversary of the Holodomor, the starvation of millions of Ukrainians caused by Soviet policies in 1932-33.
Today, Russia is again using food as a weapon
“90 years after the Holodomor, we honor the memory of Ukraine’s victims. They died in silence, starving to death, and, at that time, the world did not rise to help them. We will not let this happen again,” said von der Leyen. “Today, Russia is again using food as a weapon. As part of its brutal aggression against Ukraine, Russia has destroyed your agricultural production, targeted your grain silos, and blockaded your ports.”
Statement by President von der Leyen at the “Grain from Ukraine” Summit
“This meeting falls on the Holodomor memorial day – when, 90 years ago, hunger was used as a weapon by the Soviet Union against the Ukrainian people,” von der Leyen noted. “Today, Russia is again using food as a weapon.
“As part of its brutal aggression against Ukraine, Russia has destroyed your agricultural production, targeted your grain silos, and blockaded your ports. Thus, Russia is depriving of vital access to food the most vulnerable countries in Africa, the Middle East and Asia, and then it uses disinformation to blame others for its despicable actions. We must continue to fight back against this!” she told the Ukrainians.
“Your initiative ‘Grain from Ukraine,’ which has my full support, is crucial to our efforts. You are showing unwavering commitment to global food security, international responsibility, and solidarity with those most in need. And we stand by your side!
“In Bali, the G20 leaders called for global solidarity to fight hunger caused by Russia’s war of aggression. We will not falter in our responsibilities and will continue to do everything we can on this front.
As we come together with Ukraine today to help avert hunger around the world, we also stand with Ukraine as it mourns the innocent victims of the Holodomor
“The Solidarity Lanes established by the Commission and bordering Member States are a major success. Since May, they have enabled the export of more than 17 million tons of Ukrainian grain and food products. And they are the only option for the export of all other, non-agricultural Ukrainian goods to the rest of the world.
“The Solidarity Lanes have become a lifeline for Ukraine’s economy, bringing more than 19 billion Euros of much-needed income to Ukrainian farmers and businesses.
“The European Commission, together with Financial Institutions such as the EIB, the EBRD, and the World Bank, have now mobilized 1 billion Euros of additional funding to boost the capacity of these Solidarity Lanes. We welcome the extension of the Black Sea Grain Initiative for 120 days. Taken together, the EU Solidarity Lanes and the Black Sea Grain Initiative have allowed the export of more than 28 million tons of agricultural products to the world market, especially to the countries most in need.
“It is very important to signal to the world today that we will not let our most vulnerable partners down. This is why I am very pleased to announce the support of the European Commission to load two ships with grain. We will pay to transport 40,000 tons of grain, which is the remainder of the grain that you have made available. Whatever the costs are.
“90 years after the Holodomor, we honor the memory of Ukraine’s victims. They died in silence, starving to death, and, at that time, the world did not rise to help them. We will not let this happen again.
“As we come together with Ukraine today to help avert hunger around the world, we also stand with Ukraine as it mourns the innocent victims of the Holodomor.
“And we will stand with Ukraine for as long as it takes. Slava Ukraini!”
Holodomor The Holodomor, also known as the Terror (or Great) Famine, was a man-made famine in Soviet Ukraine from 1932 to 1933 that killed millions of Ukrainians. The Holodomor was part of the wider Soviet famine of 1932–1933 which affected the major grain-producing areas of the Soviet Union.
While scholars universally agree that the cause of the famine was man-made, whether the Holodomor constitutes a genocide remains in dispute. Some historians conclude that the famine was planned and exacerbated by Joseph Stalin in order to eliminate a Ukrainian independence movement. Others suggest that the famine arose because of rapid Soviet industrialization and collectivization of agriculture.
Ukraine was one of the largest grain-producing states in the USSR and was subject to unreasonably higher grain quotas when compared to the rest of the country. This caused Ukraine to be hit particularly hard by the famine. Early estimates of the death toll by scholars and government officials vary greatly. A joint statement to the United Nations signed by 25 countries in 2003 declared that 7–10 million died. However, current scholarship estimates 3.5 to 5 million victims. The famine’s widespread impact on Ukraine persists to this day.