Latest developments

Russia will continue its special military operation in Ukraine despite the sanctions and increased Western assistance to Kyiv, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said.

Russia stopped providing gas to Finland in an escalation of a row over energy payments with the West.

US Senate voted to finalize more than $40 billion in new military and humanitarian assistance to Ukraine.

Putin says Russia would respond to expansion of NATO military infrastructure into Finland, Sweden.

Russia sees the prospect of Ukraine's membership of the European Union as the equivalent of its joining NATO.

09:11 2022-05-28
Russia blames West's 'unlawful decisions' for food crisis
By REN QI in Moscow
Grain is loaded on a truck at a flour mill facility in Chernihiv region, Ukraine, May 24, 2022. REUTERS/Edgar Su

Russia asked the West on Thursday to lift sanctions over its "special military operation" in Ukraine, and blamed it on a growing food crisis that has been worsened by Kyiv's inability to ship millions of tons of grain and other agricultural products.

Russian President Vladimir Putin told Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi that Moscow "is ready to make a significant contribution to overcoming the food crisis through the export of grain and fertilizer on the condition that politically motivated restrictions imposed by the West are lifted", according to a Kremlin readout of the call.

Britain insisted that there would be no sanctions relief.

With the conflict grinding into its fourth month, world leaders have ramped up calls for solutions.

Ukraine is one of the world's largest exporters of wheat, corn and sunflower oil, but the conflict has halted much of that flow, endangering global food supplies.

World Trade Organization Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said about 25 million metric tons of Ukrainian grain is in storage and another 25 million tons could be harvested next month.

Russia is also a significant grain exporter, and Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the West "must cancel the unlawful decisions that hamper chartering ships and exporting grain".

The Russian Defense Ministry proposed corridors to allow foreign ships to leave ports along the Black Sea, as well as Mariupol on the Sea of Azov.

Mikhail Mizintsev, head of Russia's National Defense Control Center, said 70 foreign vessels from 16 countries were in six ports on the Black Sea, including Odessa, Kherson and Mykolaiv. He did not specify how many might be ready to carry food.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said his country was ready to agree on safe corridors in principle, but that some concerns remained.

In a nightly video address, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called for imposing even tougher sanctions on Russia and more weaponry aid to Kyiv.

Meanwhile, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko proposed to set up the Southern Operational Command over the border with Ukraine.

On May 15, Igor Korol, deputy chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Belarus, said the Ukrainian military was mining roads and bridges on the territory adjacent to Belarus.

"A new front has opened and we can't fail to pay attention to it,"Lukashenko, in military uniform, told a televised meeting of defense officials.

"The troops, special operations forces and battalion tactical groups are on rotational orders and have been sent to the south on my decision and are shielding the border together with the border guards."

Agencies contributed to this story.

09:54 2022-05-27
Countries attempting to isolate Russia only hurt themselves: Putin
Russian President Vladimir Putin attends the plenary session of the First Eurasian Economic Forum via video link on May 26, 2022. [Photo/Agencies]

MOSCOW - Russian President Vladimir Putin said Thursday that those countries, which are attempting to isolate Russia, are primarily only harming their economies.

Putin said it would simply be unfeasible and impossible to isolate Russia, and "those, who aspire to do so would harm themselves the most", during his speech at the plenary session of the first Eurasian Economic Forum.

Putin noted that the current state of the global economy demonstrates that Russia's position is right and justified, as opposed to the countries, which are trying to "pursue short-sighted policies".

Those advanced economies are experiencing their worst inflation in 40 years as well as growing unemployment, he said, adding that logistic chains were breaking, and global crises were intensifying in such areas as food.

"This is a serious issue that is affecting the entire system of economic and political relations," Putin said.

The Russian leader said that the sanctions and restrictions, which aim to primarily weaken and contain countries that wish to pursue independent policies, are ultimately futile.

"There are many countries that want to and will pursue an independent policy ... and no world policeman will be able to stop this global process ... there will not be enough power for this and the desire to do so will evaporate due to a host of domestic problems in those countries," Putin said.

09:51 2022-05-27
Ukrainian, German FMs discuss heavy weapon supplies
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba. [Photo/Agencies]

KYIV - Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said on Thursday he had discussed the supplies of heavy weapons to Ukraine with German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock.

"We need more heavy weapons delivered as soon as possible, especially MLRS (Multiple Launch Rocket Systems), to repel Russian attacks," Kuleba tweeted after the talks.

The Ukrainian foreign minister added that he had briefed Baerbock on the difficult situation in the Donbass region.

Other topics of the discussion included further sanctions on Russia and Ukraine's prospects to achieve a European Union (EU) candidate status, Kuleba said.

Earlier this month, Baerbock said the government of Germany is working with German enterprises to provide modern weapons to Ukraine.

09:45 2022-05-27
Ukrainian president, Finnish PM discuss Ukraine's European integration, post-conflict recovery
This handout picture taken and released on May 26, 2022 by the Ukrainian Presidential press service show Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky (R) and Finland's Prime Minister Sanna Marin posing for a photo prior their talks in Kyiv. [Photo/Agencies]

KYIV - Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Thursday met with Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin and discussed Ukraine's European integration and post-conflict recovery, Zelensky's press service reported.

At the talks in Kyiv, Zelensky thanked the Finnish government for providing financial, defense and humanitarian aid for Ukraine and imposing sanctions on Russia.

He also stressed the importance of visits of foreign high-ranking officials to the Ukrainian capital.

"These are very important direct signals of support, first of all for the Ukrainian people, our people, who see that they are not left alone with today's ordeals," Zelensky said.

Finland's support for Ukraine's future membership in the European Union (EU) is very important, Zelensky said, adding that Kyiv expects that the EU will decide on Ukraine's membership prospects soon.

The Ukrainian leader also invited Finland to take part in his country's post-conflict recovery by taking patronage over a region, city, or industry.

For her part, Marin said that her country and people today understand Ukrainians very well, given their historical experience.

"The heroic spirit of the Ukrainian people, who are fighting for their freedom and for the whole of Europe, is admirable," Marin said.

The Finnish prime minister arrived in Kyiv earlier in the day for her first visit to Ukraine.

09:41 2022-05-27
Erdogan, Macron discuss Ukrainian crisis, NATO expansion

ANKARA - Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron on Thursday held a phone talk to discuss the Ukrainian crisis, prospects of NATO's expansion, and the bilateral ties.

Erdogan told Macron that Turkey wants "a just peace" between Russia and Ukraine as soon as possible and continues to encourage the two sides to hold dialogue and diplomacy, Turkey's presidency said in a statement.

On Finland's and Sweden's bids to join the NATO, Erdogan said that the "contacts" of these countries with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) affiliated persons and institutions are not in line with the spirit of the alliance, said the statement.

Sweden and Finland sent delegations to Ankara for talks on Wednesday in an effort to resolve their differences with Turkey, which threatens to block their NATO bids.

Turkey presented its demands to the delegations for the two Nordic countries to take concrete steps to deal with Turkey's security concerns, said Turkish presidential spokesperson Ibrahim Kalin after the talks.

The two countries have formally submitted their NATO membership applications, which need the approval of all current NATO members.

Turkey is the only member of the alliance that objects to their bids, citing their support for the PKK and its Syrian branch, the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), and harboring members of the Gulen Movement accused by Ankara of being behind the failed military coup in 2016.

Ankara also demands Sweden and Finland lift their restrictions on arms exports imposed since Turkey launched military operations in Syria in 2019.

08:03 2022-05-27
Putin fast-tracks Russian citizenship in Ukraine
By REN QI in Moscow
Local resident Valeria removes dust from a bench outside her heavily damaged house in Pokrovsk, eastern Ukraine, on Wednesday. FRANCISCO SECO/ASSOCIATED PRESS

Russian President Vladimir Putin has issued an order to fast-track Russian citizenship for residents in the southern and eastern parts of Ukraine largely held by Russian forces.

The fast-track citizenship option on Wednesday came amid speculation that Moscow could establish permanent control over areas it has captured in its three-month "special military operation" in Ukraine. Russia has not officially responded to the speculation.

Russia first introduced a simplified passport scheme for residents of eastern Ukraine's militia-controlled Lugansk and Donetsk regions in 2019. Over 200,000 people are estimated to have since obtained Russian citizenship.

Putin's new decree extends the scheme to people living in Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions and enters into effect immediately.

The southern region of Kherson is now under the full control of Russian troops, while the southeastern region of Zaporizhzhia is partially controlled by Moscow.

The Russian army is engaged in an intense battle for Ukraine's eastern industrial heartland of Donbas. In a sign that the Kremlin is trying to bolster its stretched military machine, Russian lawmakers agreed to scrap the age limit of 40 for those signing their first voluntary military contracts.

Russian officials explained only volunteer contract soldiers are sent to fight in Ukraine, though they acknowledged that some conscripts were put into the fighting by mistake in the early stages of the conflict.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky reiterated on Wednesday that he would be willing to negotiate with Putin directly, but said Moscow needs to retreat to the positions it held before the conflict.

At the World Economic Forum in Davos by video link, Zelensky also issued a bitter rebuke to the West for not doing enough to help Kyiv.

Calling for help "without limits", specifically shipments of heavy weaponry, Zelensky also blasted recent suggestions that negotiated peace could include territorial concessions.

The conflict has caused global shockwaves, with the latest being fears of food shortages, particularly in Africa. Moscow blamed the sanctions imposed after the conflict, while the West said the shortage is mainly down to Russia's blockade of Ukrainian ports.

Comprehensive approach

"Solving the food problem requires a comprehensive approach, including the removal of sanctions that have been imposed on Russian exports and financial transactions," Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Andrey Rudenko said.

Meanwhile, Turkish presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said Turkey has set out conditions for the Swedish and Finnish delegations to earn its support over the two Nordic countries' bids to join NATO.

Officials from Sweden and Finland met with Turkish counterparts in Turkey's capital Ankara on Wednesday, in an attempt to resolve disputes with Turkey, which opposes their NATO membership bids.

Sweden and Finland's procedure to join the military alliance will not move forward if concrete steps are not taken to address Turkey's concerns, Kalin stressed.

Agencies contributed to this story.

07:35 2022-05-27
Ukraine crisis used as excuse

Editor's Note: China Daily presents a series of analyses to help readers around the world better understand the how and why behind China's views and decisions on the Ukraine situation. This is the seventh installment of the series.

US walkouts at G20, APEC venues blasted for disrupting recovery efforts

Head of delegates prepare for a meeting on the last day of the G20 finance ministers and central bank governors meeting in Jakarta, Indonesia, February 18, 2022. [Photo/Agencies]

The United States and some of its allies have stunned and angered other countries over the past month as they walked out of venues of major global economic forums such as the G20 and APEC in the name of boycotting Russia over the crisis in Ukraine.

Senior officials and scholars from countries including China have stood up against such walkouts, saying that they are turning cooperative platforms into "weapons" serving the West's own cliques, worsening the world's fragmentation and sabotaging viable paths for tackling the global economic downturn.

As a multilateral platform connecting the world's major developed and emerging economies, the G20 represents roughly more than 80 percent of the world's GDP, 75 percent of international trade and 60 percent of the world's population.

US, Canadian and British officials left the G20 finance ministers meeting in Washington DC on April 20 as Russian delegates spoke.

In an interview with CNN, Sri Mulyani Indrawati, finance minister of this year's G20 host country Indonesia, said her country received "a lot of sympathy" as many G20 members privately said that "they want this cooperation as a premier economic forum for collaboration... to be continued".

Another walkout took place on Saturday as representatives of the US, Japan, Canada, Australia and New Zealand left the trade representatives meeting of the 21-member Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation grouping in Bangkok, Thailand, this year's host of the APEC meetings.

The meeting also failed to issue a joint statement, which "is the last thing China and many other APEC members hope to see," Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said on Monday.

All parties should "respect APEC's nature as an economic forum and the mandate of the meeting itself, focus on economic and trade issues, and avoid introducing geopolitical issues", Wang added.

"The momentum of politicizing global economic forums and using them as 'weapons' is actually developing, and the US-led countries may even do more like this in the near future," said Zhu Jiejin, a professor of global governance studies at Fudan University's School of International Relations and Public Affairs.

"Washington and some of its allies are trying to diminish and create rifts in the G20 and APEC by replacing such forums with their own cliques and their own agendas, such as the newly released 'Indo-Pacific Economic Framework'. This is sheer selfishness," Zhu said.

In a speech on May 10, International Monetary Fund Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva warned of a world "that could fragment into 'economic blocs', creating obstacles to the cross-border flow of capital, goods, services, ideas and technologies".

Experts said that it is ironic and deplorable for Washington to disrupt the functioning of the G20, a major global forum it initially sought for tackling the aftermath of the global financial crisis in 2008.

Vasuki Shastry, associate fellow of Chatham House's Asia-Pacific Programme, warned that "the tussle over Russia's continued participation is likely to consume political capital and seriously impair the grouping's ability to deliver for the next two years".

"A reversion to the pre-2008 world order, when the G7 was the only game in town, seems inevitable, but would be deeply unrepresentative of the global economy today," Shastry wrote in an article on the Forbes website last month.

Xu Xiujun, director of the International Political Economy Department of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences' Institute of World Economics and Politics, said, "Key venues undertaking multilateral coordination-such as the G20 and the APEC-should have played larger roles and better lived up to the expectations and needs of the international community."

"However, the US and some other Western countries are still drifting away from the world's mainstream as they push for politicizing such multilateral bodies, and use them as tools and weapons, thus leading to the bodies' malfunction in some cases. Such practices had begun way ahead of the Ukraine crisis' breaking out," Xu said.

"Rising populism and widening wealth gaps back at their homes have given rise to serious social problems, prompting their governments to take a more hard-line approach overseas to shift blame to other nations," Xu added. "That's how the developed countries made the vital mistake in the first place."

Opposing fragmentation

As a sign of shoring up global unity, the foreign ministries of Cambodia, Indonesia and Thailand issued a rare joint news release on May 4 in their respective capacities as host nations of this year's Association of Southeast Asian Nations, G20 and APEC meetings.

"As chairs of these important meetings this year, we are determined to work with all our partners and stakeholders to ensure a spirit of cooperation," said the release.

China staunchly supports Indonesia in its role as G20 president, and eliminating interference to achieve the established agenda goals and lead the G20 in the right direction, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi said in a phone conversation on Wednesday with Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi.

The United Nations Security Council is the right platform to discuss political and security issues, while the G20 should stay committed to focusing on macroeconomic policy coordination and fulfill its due mission, Wang said.

In an opinion piece published in the Bangkok Post on May 12, Korn Chatikavanij wrote, "The West must also realize that their narrative is not necessarily considered to be received wisdom in Asia.

"Their boycott and disengagement would leave a void that would be filled by alternative views that could further reduce the West's influence in this region."

Yang Baoyun, a professor of ASEAN studies at Thammasat University in Bangkok, said that behind the confusion over the major global forums are the drastically different ways between developing countries-such as China-and the US-led Western countries of addressing globalization and world economic growth.

"The US and some of its allies are obsessed in bloc-based confrontation and cliques that are unconstructive, disruptive and aimed at what they antagonize. Still, China is dedicated to keeping economic globalization afloat and building a community of a shared future for mankind," Yang said. "Also, a growing number of developing countries are getting a clearer view about what's going on."

Arsjad Rasjid, chairman of the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said that the G20 "should not be turned into yet another battleground for great power rivalry" at a time most countries are currently grappling with inflation and shortages and "the world's post-pandemic recovery is looking fragile".

"Without addressing the global economic downturn, peace cannot be assured. All forums for communication must be kept open, especially in times of distrust," he wrote in a signed article in the South China Morning Post on May 13.

07:53 2022-05-26
Fighting in Ukraine rages as Russia hints at longer operation
By REN QI in Moscow
Residents live in a subway station still used as temporary shelter in Kharkiv, eastern Ukraine, on Tuesday. The Kharkiv subway resumed service that day after it was closed for more than two months. BERNAT ARMANGUE/ASSOCIATED PRESS

Russian forces have stepped up their offensive on the last pocket of resistance around Lugansk in Ukraine's eastern Donbas region as the "special military operation "entered its fourth month.

Lugansk regional governor Serhiy Gaidai said thousands of Russian troops are trying to solidify control over the province and move further into Ukraine.

"The situation (in Severodonetsk) is very difficult and unfortunately it is only getting worse," Gaidai said in describing what he termed a "full-scale offensive in all directions" in a video on social media.

But in a reported setback for Russia, the BBC's Russian service said Major General Kanamat Botashev has become the highest-ranking Russian pilot to be killed in Ukraine.

The 63-year-old retired general had been flying a Sukhoi Su-25 fighter jet over the Lugansk region on Sunday when the aircraft was targeted by a Stinger shoulder-fired missile system, the BBC reported, citing three of Botashev's former subordinates who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Ukraine's Defense Ministry has said 12 Russian generals have been killed so far, while Russia has confirmed only two deaths among its generals in three months of fighting.

In Moscow, Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu made it clear that Russia was settling in for a long conflict as it entered its fourth month with heavy fighting in the east but signs of some normality returning elsewhere.

"We will continue the special military operation until all the objectives have been achieved," he said.

In his daily address to the nation late on Tuesday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called the situation in Donbas "extremely difficult".

"All the strength of the Russian army which they still have was thrown there for the offensive," said Zelensky, accusing Russian troops of wanting "to destroy everything there".

Shoigu, speaking to regional counterparts from the Moscow-led Collective Security Treaty Organization, blamed his country's slow advance on a "deliberate" attempt to avoid civilian casualties.

"We will continue the special military operation until all the objectives have been achieved, regardless of the massive Western aid to the Kyiv regime and the sanctions against Russia," Shoigu said.

In a similar tone, the secretary of Russia's Security Council, Nikolai Patrushev, said Moscow's offensive would last as long as necessary. "We are not rushing to meet deadlines," Patrushev told the Russian newspaper Argumenty i Fakty in an interview published on Tuesday. "All the goals set by the president of Russia will be fulfilled."

Kharkiv metro reopens

In Ukraine's second city of Kharkiv, some semblance of normality returned on Tuesday as the metro was reopened after months of use as a bomb shelter.

"We decided to relaunch services because we have to relaunch the economy," Mayor Igor Terekhov told journalists, adding that train rides would be free for the next two weeks.

The Kharkiv metro, with 30 stations, has sheltered thousands of residents.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Tuesday that the world is facing the threat of a new Cold War "with nuclear undertones" and a surge in extreme nationalism.

Agencies contributed to this story.

10:08 2022-05-25
Russia to continue special military operation in Ukraine until all goals met: DM

MOSCOW - Russia will continue its special military operation in Ukraine despite the sanctions and increased Western assistance to Kyiv, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said Tuesday.

"We will continue the special military operation until all objectives are accomplished, despite the large-scale Western assistance to Kyiv, and the sanctions pressure on Russia," local media reported, citing Shoigu during a meeting of the Council of Defense Ministers of the Collective Security Treaty Organization.

Shoigu added that Russia was intentionally slowing its offensive in Ukraine "to avoid civilian casualties".

"Silence regimes are being introduced and humanitarian corridors are being created for the evacuation of civilians from nearby settlements," he said.

Russia started its special military operation in Ukraine on Feb 24.

09:47 2022-05-24
Western sanctions blamed for food crisis
By REN QI in Moscow
Residents of Mariupol have to make do with a wheelbarrow for moving goods in a heavily bombed area near the Ukrainian city's Azovstal steel plant on Sunday. ALEXANDER ERMOCHENKO/REUTERS

The Kremlin said on Monday that the West had triggered a global food crisis by imposing the severest sanctions in modern history on Russia over the conflict in Ukraine.

The conflict and the West's attempt to isolate Russia as punishment have sent the price of grain, cooking oil, fertilizer and energy soaring.

United Nations chief Antonio Guterres said last week that he was in intense contact with Russia, Ukraine, Turkey, the United States and the European Union in an effort to restore grain exports from Ukraine as a global food crisis worsens.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, the Kremlin said, agreed with the UN's assessment that the world faced a food crisis that could cause famine.

"Russia has always been a rather reliable grain exporter," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

"We are not the source of the problem. The source of the problem that leads to world hunger are those who imposed sanctions against us, and the sanctions themselves."

Russia and Ukraine together account for nearly a third of global wheat supplies.

The UN has said 36 countries count on Russia and Ukraine for more than half their wheat imports, including some of the poorest, among them Lebanon, Syria, Yemen, Somalia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

It came as the number of people forced to flee battlefields, violence, human rights violations and persecution has crossed the staggering milestone of 100 million for the first time on record, the United Nations Refugee Agency said on Monday.

The "alarming" figure must shake the world into ending the conflicts, the UNHCR said in a statement.

The UNHCR said the numbers of forcibly displaced people rose toward 90 million by the end of 2021, spurred by violence in Ethiopia, Burkina Faso, Myanmar, Nigeria, Afghanistan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Negotiations will come?

Moscow will be ready to return to negotiations with Kyiv "as soon as Kyiv shows a constructive position", RIA cited Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Andrey Rudenko as saying on Monday.

Still, Ukraine ruled out a ceasefire or any territorial concessions to Moscow on Sunday as Russia reportedly stepped up its military operation in the country's east and south after declaring victory in its monthslong campaign to take the strategic port of Mariupol.

Polish President Andrzej Duda offered Warsaw's backing, telling lawmakers in Kyiv on Sunday that any loss of Ukrainian territory would be a "huge blow" to the entire West.

Duda was the first foreign leader to address the Ukrainian parliament in person since Russia started its "special military operation "on Feb 24.

At the parliamentary session, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky renewed a plea for stronger economic sanctions from the West against Russia.

Shortly after both finished speaking, an air raid siren was heard in the capital, a reminder that the battles raged on even if its front lines are now hundreds of kilometers away.

Agencies contributed to this story.

07:23 2022-05-24
Food insecurity fears mount amid conflict
Left: A Palestinian collects food aid from a distribution center run by the UN Relief and Works Agency. Center: A Ukrainian army officer inspects a grain warehouse shelled by Russian forces in Novovorontsovka, Ukraine. Top right: Produce is sold at a market in Taiz, Yemen. Above right: An Egyptian farmer displays wheat. The African nation has banned food exports since the Russia-Ukraine conflict started. MAHMOUD ISSA/SOPA IMAGES/SIPA USA;JOHN MOORE/GETTY IMAGES;ABDULNASSER ALSEDDIK/ANADOLU AGENCY/GETTY IMAGES;XINHUA

Prices soar worldwide due to affected supplies

With the number of people without enough food each day reaching a record high last year, the Russia-Ukraine conflict is adding to this problem.

The crisis has severely affected food production, sending prices soaring worldwide. It has also triggered protectionism of food products in certain countries, and the lack of food could cause instability in some nations and regions.

On May 4, the annual report by the Global Network Against Food Crises said that about 193 million people in 53 countries or territories experienced acute food insecurity at crisis levels or even worse last year. This represents a rise of nearly 40 million people compared with the record numbers recorded in 2020.

Conflict was the main driver of food insecurity even before the Russia-Ukraine crisis started on Feb 24.

David Beasley, executive director of the UN World Food Program, said, "Acute hunger is soaring to unprecedented levels and the global situation just keeps getting worse."

He added that conflict, the climate crisis, the COVID-19 pandemic and surging food and fuel costs have created "a perfect storm", while the Russia-Ukraine conflict is "piling catastrophe on top of catastrophe".

"Millions of people in dozens of countries are being driven to the edge of starvation. We urgently need emergency funding to pull them back from the brink and turn this global crisis around before it is too late," he said.

Russia and Ukraine are among the world's most important producers of agricultural commodities. Both countries are net exporters of agricultural produce and play leading supply roles in global foodstuff and fertilizer markets.

Last year, Russia and Ukraine ranked among the top three global exporters of wheat, maize, rapeseed, sunflower seeds and sunflower oil, according to the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization, or FAO. Russia was also the world's top exporter of nitrogen fertilizers and the second leading supplier of potassium and phosphorous fertilizers.

Chen Yangfen, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences' Institute of Agricultural Economics and Development, said the production, processing and transportation of sunflower seeds, wheat and barley in Ukraine's main producing areas have basically stagnated due to the conflict with Russia. As March to May is the wheat and corn planting season, and with the conflict continuing, Ukraine could miss out on this season, seriously affecting annual grain production.

Figures from Ukraine's Ministry of Agrarian Policy and Food on April 28 showed that spring crops had been sown on 2.5 million hectares of land in the country, accounting for only 20 percent of the projected planting area.

Uncertainty also surrounds the prospects for Russian exports. The West, led by the United States, continues to step up sanctions against Russia, which have also had a great impact on Russia's agricultural production, particularly pesticides, seeds and produce for export.

Chen said: "Russia's agricultural production is highly dependent on imported seeds, but some seedling companies have said they will stop non-essential business in Russia. Some international grain merchants also said they will reduce investment in Russian agriculture, all of which will directly hurt the country's agricultural sector and global food supplies."

FAO projections suggest that in view of this situation, the number of undernourished people worldwide could grow by 8 million to 13 million people in 2022-23, with the most pronounced increases occurring in the Asia-Pacific region, followed by sub-Saharan Africa, the Near East and North Africa.

According to the World Bank's Commodity Markets Outlook report published last month, the Russia-Ukraine conflict will result in oil prices rising by more than 40 percent this year, and non-energy prices growing by nearly 20 percent. Wheat prices are projected to rise by over 40 percent.

Fears increase

Ervin Prifti, a senior economist at the International Monetary Fund's research department, said the pandemic set the world back by a decade, pushing the prevalence of undernourishment to 9.9 percent through a combination of lost income and food price rises. The Ukraine crisis added to pandemic-related factors, which had been pushing up food commodity prices for almost 18 months.

The fallout from the conflict has yet to become fully apparent, but the situation could worsen, depending on how several risk factors play out in coming months, including the progress of planting in Ukraine, Prifti said.

The likelihood of a "perfect storm" resulting in even higher food prices has increased due to exceptionally tightened global fertilizer supplies that may push down yields in the current or next agricultural year, he added.

Prifti said a shortage of food "outside of fragile and humanitarian contexts" is highly unlikely, but many countries are also experiencing increased food prices due to high energy costs and supply chain disruptions.

"To the extent that some wages and incomes, especially in poor households, are not able to keep up with the price increases, purchasing power could be eroded, resulting in a higher likelihood of more people having to switch to qualitatively inferior diets or even falling below the undernourishment threshold," he said.

Prifti added that increased food prices will be experienced globally, but some countries are more vulnerable than others--for example, low-income nations heavily dependent on wheat imports.

"Disruptions may be even greater for countries with strong trade links to Russia and Ukraine, as rerouting imports from other nations may take time. Specifically, countries in the Middle East and North Africa such as Egypt, Lebanon and Tunisia seem to fit this profile," Prifti said.

More generally, low-income countries heavily dependent on food imports should expect higher bills for produce, along with rising food price inflation. In turn, these factors may put pressure on the budgets of governments that provide subsidies to make food more affordable for their people, he added.

Chen said Middle Eastern, North African and South Asian countries, especially developing nations such as Lebanon and Yemen, will bear the brunt of the Ukraine crisis, as they already face a food insecurity emergency and are highly dependent on Russia and Ukraine for food imports.

"Given the large export scales of Russia and Ukraine, trade restrictions in the short term, and rising prices for global agricultural produce, it is not easy for these regions to obtain alternative food sources, and their import costs will rise significantly, aggravating the already serious food insecurity situation," he said.

David Laborde, a senior research fellow at the International Food Policy Research Institute, or IFPRI, said South Asian countries such as Bangladesh could also be affected by the military conflict in Europe, which has disrupted global trade of key supplies such as wheat, vegetable oil and fertilizers.

According to an IFPRI report issued late last month, Bangladesh, which depends on imports of such supplies to feed its large population, "faces the prospect of rising food insecurity."

Clayton Hazvinei Vhumbunu, a research fellow in international relations at the University of Pretoria in South Africa, said the Russian-Ukraine conflict has triggered a global economic shock. Three main factors resulting from the crisis will ultimately impact food security in Africa-rising oil, fertilizer and food import prices.

He said the conflict triggered rising oil prices in Africa and elsewhere in the world. Rising fuel prices, considered to be the most severe since the 1973 oil crisis, have been experienced in most African nations since March, triggering inflation that will limit some households' access to food.

The Russia-Ukraine conflict has affected the supply and cost of fertilizers, and the impact has started to be felt by African countries that import sizable amounts of fertilizers from these two nations.

Moreover, many African countries, including Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Libya, Morocco, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Sudan and Tunisia, are heavily dependent on food imports from Russia, especially cereals, sunflower oil and maize. The Russian-Ukraine conflict may worsen the situation and result in further food insecurities, Vhumbunu said.

He added that the conflict is a serious concern, as Africa already faces food security threats, and the continent accounts for nearly 80 percent of all Low-Income Food-Deficit Countries worldwide.

"Therefore, global conflicts that alter trade, production and consumption patterns are a grave concern to Africa, especially considering the fact that we are still building back on the destruction caused by the pandemic," he added.

Exports curbed

Li Yonghui, a researcher of Russian studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said the world is not running out of food yet. However, fears of scarcity, rather than actual conditions in food markets, and the prospect of future shortages, have prompted some major food producers to restrict exports of agricultural produce.

"Some countries have enough food stocks, but that doesn't mean their surplus supplies will go to nations that already face food shortages, because they (food-sufficient countries) fear that if the Russian-Ukraine conflict continues for a long time, they will first have to ensure that domestic needs are met," she said.

An IFPRI blog said that since the Russian-Ukraine conflict began, as of early last month, the number of countries imposing food export restrictions had risen from three to 16.

Russia temporarily banned exports of white sugar and sugar cane, along with grain exports to the Eurasian Economic Union. Ukraine has banned exports of wheat, oats and other staples crucial for global food supplies to ensure adequate stocks for its population during the conflict. Other notable suppliers imposing restrictions include Indonesia, which has banned palm oil exports, Argentina, where a ban on beef exports has been imposed, and Turkey, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan, which have prohibited exports of a range of grain produce. Meanwhile, India banned wheat exports that did not have government approval.

Prifti, from the International Monetary Fund, said food protectionism caused by banned grain exports will result in similar action being taken by other countries, leading to further tightened global food supplies, which will worsen shortages and trigger rising prices and volatility.

A series of trade restrictions during the 2007-08 global food price crisis resulted in even higher prices and heightened food insecurity.

"The same is true for panic-driven stockpiling by countries that artificially raise demand and contribute to global imbalances in reserves," Prifti said.

According to the IFPRI blog, research on the impact of export restrictions during the global food price crisis suggests that such policies contributed to 40 percent of the increased agricultural prices at that time.

Prifti added that food price inflation is neither a necessary nor sufficient condition for political instability, but history has shown that it can raise social tensions. Sometimes, combined with other conditions, such inflation can trigger public discontent.

Li said that as food price inflation increases globally, and with no quick resolution to the Russia-Ukraine crisis in sight, more countries may impose export restrictions. Protectionism in the agricultural sector would further worsen food insecurity in economically backward nations.

If the food situation continues to worsen, it may lead to political instability and even social unrest in such countries and regions, she said, adding that governments should provide subsidies for the poor to help them cope with rising food prices.

Monika Tothova, an economist at the FAO, said food assistance is crucial for countries severely affected by the Russia-Ukraine conflict, but such help does not address the root causes of food insecurity, such as conflict and lack of economic activities.

As conflict was the main driver of food insecurity even before the Russia-Ukraine crisis began, she urged global communities to address this situation.

Xinhua contributed to this story.

08:21 2022-05-23
Russia shuts taps on gas to Finland
A woman grieves for a fallen soldier at a cemetery in Bezlioudivka, eastern Ukraine, on Saturday. She was at the graveside of Stanislav Hvostov, 22. [Photo by DIMITAR DILKOFF/AFP]

Action follows payment impasse, while Ukraine rules out cease-fire

KYIV/OSLO-Russia stopped providing gas to Finland in an escalation of a row over energy payments with the West on Saturday, as Ukraine ruled out a cease-fire amid intensified fighting in the Donbass region.

Russia's state-owned gas company, Gazprom, said it had halted gas exports to Finland after it refused to agree to Russian demands to pay for Russian gas in roubles because of Western sanctions imposed over Moscow's special military operation in Ukraine.

Finland and Sweden applied last week to join the NATO military alliance, a decision spurred by the Ukraine conflict.

Finnish state-owned gas wholesaler Gasum, the Finnish government and individual gas-consuming companies in Finland have said they were prepared for a shutdown of Russian flows and that the country will manage without.

Most European supply contracts are denominated in euros or dollars and Moscow cut off gas to Bulgaria and Poland last month after they refused to comply with the new payment terms.

In addition to trying to isolate Russia through sanctions, Western countries have stepped up weapons supplies to Ukraine.

Kyiv got another huge boost on Saturday when US President Joe Biden signed a bill to provide nearly $40 billion in military, economic and humanitarian aid to the country.

Moscow says Western arms deliveries to Kyiv, and the imposition of sanctions amount to a "proxy war" by the United States and its allies.

More sanctions

In a retaliatory move, Russia on Saturday published a list of 963 leading US citizens, including US President Joe Biden, Meta boss Mark Zuckerberg and Hollywood actor Morgan Freeman banned from entering the country.

Those named in the list on the Russian Foreign Ministry's website also include US government officials, lawmakers and other leading figures.

Moscow had already announced sanctions targeting many of those on the list, in particular Biden, his Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin.

Ukraine has ruled out a cease-fire or concessions to Moscow as Russia intensifies an offensive in the eastern Donbass region.

After ending weeks of resistance by the last Ukrainian fighters in the strategic southeastern city of Mariupol, Russia is waging a major offensive in Lugansk, one of two provinces in Donbass.

Russian-backed separatists already controlled swaths of territory in Lugansk and the neighboring Donetsk before the Feb 24 start of the military operation, but Moscow wants to seize the last remaining Ukrainian-held territory in Donbass.

"The situation in Donbass is extremely difficult," Zelensky said in his nightly address. The Russian army was trying to attack the cities of Sloviansk and Sievierodonetsk, but Ukrainian forces were holding off their advance, he said.

Commenting on the situation on the battlefield, Zelensky adviser Mykhailo Podolyak ruled out agreeing to a cease-fire and said Kyiv would not accept any deal with Moscow that involved ceding territory. Making concessions would backfire on Ukraine because Russia would hit back harder after any break in fighting, he said.

"The war will not stop (after concessions). It will just be put on pause for some time," Podolyak, Ukraine's lead negotiator, told Reuters in an interview in the heavily guarded presidential office. "They'll start a new offensive, even more bloody and large-scale."

The last Ukrainian forces holed up in Mariupol's vast Azovstal steelworks surrendered on Friday, Russia's Defence Ministry said. It said 2,439 defenders had surrendered in the past few days.

Agencies Via Xinhua

07:39 2022-05-21
US agrees $40b weapon, aid package for Ukraine
By REN QI in Moscow
A man looks through cars destroyed during the conflict in Ukraine, in Irpin, near Kyiv, on May 19, 2022. [Photo/Reuters]

US President Joe Biden and Congress on Thursday deepened US involvement in the Russia-Ukraine conflict, with the Senate voting to finalize more than $40 billion in new military and humanitarian assistance to Ukraine.

Biden and top lawmakers also reiterated their support for what could be the most significant expansion of NATO in nearly two decades.

The package includes $6 billion for Ukraine to enhance its armored vehicle inventory and air defense system, and the White House said Biden would authorize the weapons and aid package during his trip to Asia.

At the White House on Thursday, he offered "full, total, complete backing" to Finland and Sweden in their bids to join NATO, giving the leaders of the Nordic neighbors a red-carpet welcome at the White House.

Finland and Sweden had historically kept a distance from the alliance to avoid angering Russia, but changed course-despite warnings from the Kremlin-after the latter launched the "special military operation" in Ukraine.

But all 30 existing NATO members need to agree on expanding the alliance, and Turkey has voiced misgivings about the new applicants, accusing them of what it describes as leniency toward armed Kurdish groups.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said the alliance was "addressing the concerns that Turkey has expressed".

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken echoed that remark, saying,"I'm very confident that as this process moves forward, there will be a strong consensus for bringing both countries under the alliance."

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawicki said the country is prepared to build military bases to permanently station NATO forces.

"Russia should know that we will not cede any inch of NATO's territory," the prime minister added.

On the ground, after announcing its operation had entered its second phase, Russia has focused its attacks on the south and east of Ukraine.

Moscow's forces have been trying to take complete control of the Donbas.

In Severodonetsk, a city in the Luhansk Oblast of Ukraine, 12 people were killed and another 40 wounded amid an exchange of fire on Thursday, the regional governor said.

In southern Ukraine, 1,730 Ukrainian soldiers surrendered this week at the Azovstal steel plant in the port city of Mariupol, according to Russian authorities on Thursday.

09:40 2022-05-20
Britain to provide 1.3 bln pounds in military aid for Ukraine

KYIV - The British government will provide 1.3 billion pounds in military aid for Ukraine, the Ukrainian government-run Ukrinform news agency reported Thursday, citing British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

During a phone conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Johnson said that Britain would supply long-range artillery, shore-to-ship missiles and unmanned drones to Ukraine as a part of its military assistance.

Zelensky and Johnson also discussed ways to address the issue of the blockade of Ukraine's seaports and options to open up critical sea and land supply routes for Ukrainian grain stocks.

Separately, Zelensky tweeted that he had informed Johnson about the course of hostilities in Ukraine and the operation to rescue the Ukrainian military from Mariupol's Azovstal steel plant.

09:34 2022-05-20
Russia expels more Western embassy staff
By REN QI in Moscow
A Russian soldier stands guard at the destroyed part of the Ilyich Iron and Steel Works in Ukraine's port city of Mariupol on Wednesday. OLGA MALTSEVA/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Biden to host Nordic leaders as Turkey opposes NATO bid of Sweden, Finland

Russia has announced plans to expel a total of 90 embassy staff from France, Spain, Italy and Portugal in response to similar moves by those countries, highlighting the damage to relations with some European Union members since it launched a "special military operation" in Ukraine on Feb 24.

This came as US President Joe Biden was scheduled to host the leaders of Finland and Sweden on Thursday to discuss their NATO membership bids, while Ukraine said no military option was left to rescue soldiers still inside a steel plant besieged by Russian forces.

On Wednesday, he said in a statement: "I warmly welcome and strongly support the historic applications from Finland and Sweden for membership in NATO."

Biden will meet President Sauli Niinisto of Finland and Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson in Washington on Thursday for consultations.

Finland and Sweden were both militarily nonaligned throughout the Cold War. Their bids face stiff resistance from NATO member Turkey, which accuses the two nations of harboring Kurdish militants and others it considers a threat to its security.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in a video posted on his Twitter account on Thursday that Turkey had told allies that it will reject Sweden and Finland's membership to NATO.

Each of NATO's 30 countries has an effective veto over new members.

Meanwhile, Croatian President Zoran Milanovic wants his country to follow Turkey's example by trying to block Sweden and Finland from joining NATO, The Associated Press reported.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Thursday that it was expelling five employees of Portugal's embassy in Moscow in a tit-for-tat move following the expulsion of Russian diplomats from Portugal, one day after it kicked out 34 diplomatic staff from France, 27 from Spain and 24 from Italy.

The countries are among European nations that have collectively thrown out more than 300 Russians in the past three months. In many cases, they accused Russian diplomats of spying, which Moscow has denied.

Russia's response also included sending home 45 Polish staff and 40 Germans last month. It has also announced tit-for-tat moves against Finland, Romania, Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Japan.

1,700 surrender in Mariupol

On the ground, in the port city of Mariupol, a new batch of 771 Ukrainian soldiers blocked at the Azovstal steel plant had surrendered over the past 24 hours, Russia said on Thursday.

"A total of 1,730 militants have surrendered since May 16, including 80 wounded," the Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement, adding that all those in need of inpatient treatment are hospitalized in Donetsk.

Mariupol, a key Azov Sea port city, has seen one of the worst bouts of bloody violence in the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

The Azovstal steel plant was the only thing standing in the way of Russia declaring the full capture of Mariupol. Military analysts said Mariupol's capture would hold more symbolic importance than anything else, since the city is already effectively under Moscow's control and most of the Russian forces that were tied down by the drawn-out fighting have already left, The Associated Press commented.

While Ukraine said it hopes to get the soldiers back in a prisoner swap, Russia threatened to put some of them on trial for war crimes.

Russia's main federal investigative body said it intends to interrogate the surrendering troops to "identify the nationalists" and determine whether they were involved in crimes against civilians.

Also, Russia's top prosecutor asked the country's Supreme Court to designate Ukraine's Azov Regiment-among the troops that made up the Azovstal garrison-as a terrorist organization. The regiment has roots in the far right, The Associated Press reported.

Agencies and Xinhua contributed to this story.

09:28 2022-05-20
Scholz says no shortcuts to Ukraine's EU membership bid
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz speaks during a session of Germany's lower house of parliament, the Bundestag, in Berlin, Germany, May 19, 2022. [Photo/Agencies]

BERLIN - German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on Thursday that there would be no shortcuts to Ukraine's bid to join the European Union (EU).

The European Commission is expected to complete its initial assessment of Ukraine's EU membership application by the end of June, Scholz said in his address to the Bundestag, the lower house of the German Parliament. Not allowing shortcuts on the country's road to the EU, however, is an "imperative of fairness" towards the other countries of the Western Balkans, Scholz said.

Accession to the EU can take several years. The Western Balkan countries of Montenegro, Serbia, Albania and North Macedonia have been recognized candidate countries for between eight and 17 years.

Last week, French President Emmanuel Macron also dampened Ukraine's hopes for a quick EU accession. "We all know perfectly well that the process which would allow them to join would in reality take several years, and most likely several decades," he said.

Ahead of the extraordinary meeting of EU leaders at the end of May, Scholz spoke in favor of a European solidarity fund for the reconstruction of Ukraine. "It is already clear, the reconstruction of the destroyed infrastructure, the revival of the Ukrainian economy, all this will cost billions," he said.

The solidarity fund would be "fed by contributions from the EU and our international partners", he said, stressing that the EU had to start preparations now to support Ukraine on "its European path".

Scholz stressed that solidarity in Europe was also required to cope with energy price increases. "At the European level, the main concern is to ensure that there are no bottlenecks in energy supply in individual member states."

To avoid energy shortages, Germany must become independent from fossil energy and expand the trans-European energy networks, Scholz said, praising the progress that was made together with Denmark, Belgium and the Netherlands.

09:21 2022-05-20
UN chief urges reintegrating agricultural production of Russia, Ukraine into world markets
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres speaks during a meeting of the UN Security Council on the situation in Ukraine at the UN headquarters in New York May 5, 2022. [Photo/Xinhua]

UNITED NATIONS - UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Thursday called for efforts to reintegrate the agricultural production of both Russia and Ukraine into world markets.

"Any meaningful solution to global food insecurity requires reintegrating Ukraine's agricultural production and the food and fertilizer production of Russia and Belarus into world markets - despite the war," the UN chief told a Security Council meeting on conflict and food security.

"We are working to find a package deal that will enable Ukraine to export food, not only by train but through the Black Sea, and will bring Russian food and fertilizer production to world markets, without restrictions," said the top UN official.

Guterres said that this will require "the goodwill of all countries concerned".

To meet urgent food security and nutrition needs in Niger, Mali, Chad and Burkina Faso, the secretary-general has announced to release 30 million US dollars from the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF).

"This brings to almost 95 million dollars the funding channeled through CERF to the Sahel since the start of the year," he said.

Investing in political solutions to end conflicts, prevent new ones, and build sustainable peace is crucial in addressing food insecurity, said the secretary-general.

Furthermore, he called for attention to the interconnected risks of food insecurity, energy, and financing, which "require far greater coordination and leadership".

18:19 2022-05-19
Russia says 771 more Ukrainian soldiers surrender at Azovstal steel plant

MOSCOW - Russia said Thursday that a new batch of 771 Ukrainian soldiers blocked at the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol have surrendered over the past 24 hours.

"A total of 1,730 militants have surrendered since May 16, including 80 wounded," the Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement, adding that all those in need of inpatient treatment are hospitalized in Donetsk.

The soldiers began to surrender on Monday following an agreement reached between Moscow and Kyiv on the evacuation of wounded Ukrainian soldiers.

Mariupol, a key Azov Sea port city, has seen one of the worst bouts of bloody violence in the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

The Azovstal plant, which covers an area of about 11 square km, is the holdout of the Ukrainian forces in Mariupol.

09:31 2022-05-19
Russia says 694 Ukrainian soldiers surrender at Azovstal steel plant
Ukrainian soldiers leave Azovstal steel works in Mariupol, Ukraine, in this still image taken from a video released May 18, 2022. [Photo/Agencies]

MOSCOW - Russia said Wednesday that 694 Ukrainian soldiers blocked at the Azovstal plant in Mariupol have surrendered over the past 24 hours, including 29 wounded.

"A total of 959 militants have surrendered since May 16, including 80 wounded," the Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement, adding that 51 of them are in need of medical assistance and have been admitted to a hospital in Donetsk's Novoazovsk for treatment.

The soldiers began to surrender on Monday following an agreement reached between Moscow and Kyiv on the evacuation of wounded Ukrainian soldiers.

Mariupol, a key Azov Sea port city, has seen one of the worst bouts of bloody violence in the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

The Azovstal plant, which covers an area of about 11 square km, is the holdout of the Ukrainian forces in Mariupol.

09:25 2022-05-19
Global economic growth dragged down by spillover from Ukraine crisis
People shop at a grocery store on May 12, 2022 in New York City. [Photo/Agencies]

UNITED NATIONS - The global economy is predicted to expand by only 3.1 percent this year, down from the 4.0 percent projected in January, largely due to Russia's special military operation in Ukraine, according to UN's latest World Economic Situation and Prospects (WESP) report, launched on Wednesday.

As the mid-year forecast shows, the conflict has disrupted the fragile economic recovery from the pandemic, resulting in a humanitarian crisis in Europe, rising food and commodity prices, and exacerbating inflationary pressures.

With sharp increases in food and energy prices, global inflation is projected to reach 6.7 percent this year, more than double the average of 2.9 percent during the period from 2010 to 2020.

"The war in Ukraine - in all its dimensions - is setting in motion a crisis that is also devastating global energy markets, disrupting financial systems and exacerbating extreme vulnerabilities for the developing world," said UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

"We need quick and decisive action to ensure a steady flow of food and energy in open markets, by lifting export restrictions, allocating surpluses and reserves to those who need them, and addressing food price increases to calm market volatility," he added.

In addition to the world's largest economies - the United States, China, and the European Union, the majority of other developed and developing economies have seen their growth prospects downgraded.

The outlook for energy and food prices is particularly bleak for developing economies that import commodities, and food insecurity is on the rise, especially in Africa.

The WESP report, published by UN's Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), examines how the spillover effects of the conflict in Ukraine are impacting different regions.

Besides the tragic deaths and the unfolding humanitarian crisis, Russia's special military operation has also had a severe economic impact on both countries. There are currently more than 6 million refugees alone.

Neighboring economies in Central Asia and Europe, including the European Union, are also affected.

The rise in energy prices has been a shock to the EU, which imported nearly 57.5 percent of its total energy consumption in 2020. The economy is forecasted to grow by only 2.7 percent instead of the 3.9 percent predicted in January.

Nearly a quarter of Europe's energy consumption in 2020 came from oil and natural gas imported from Russia, and a sudden halt in flows is likely to lead to increased energy prices and inflationary pressures.

EU member states from Eastern Europe and the Baltic region are severely impacted as they are already experiencing inflation rates well above the EU average, the report said.

The world's developing countries and least developed countries (LDCs) are experiencing high inflation, which is reducing household real income.

It is especially true in developing countries, where poverty is more prevalent, wage growth is constrained, and fiscal support to mitigate the impact of higher oil and food prices is limited.

The rising cost of food and energy is also having an adverse effect on the rest of the economy, which presents a challenge for an inclusive post-pandemic recovery, as low-income households are disproportionately affected.

Furthermore, "monetary tightening" by the US Federal Reserve, the country's central banking authority, will increase borrowing costs and worsen financing gaps in developing nations, including LDCs.

"The developing countries will need to brace for the impact of the aggressive monetary tightening by the Fed and put in place appropriate macroprudential measures to stem sudden outflows and stimulate productive investments," said Hamid Rashid, DESA's chief of the Global Economic Monitoring Branch, and the lead author of the report.

Moreover, the global carbon dioxide emissions are at a record high, and rising energy prices are also threatening global efforts to address climate change. As countries are looking to expand energy supplies amid high oil and gas prices, the report predicts that fossil fuel production is likely to increase in the short term.

Nickel and other metal prices may adversely affect the production of electric vehicles while rising food prices may limit the use of biofuels.

"However, countries can also address their energy and food security concerns - brought to the fore due to the crisis - by accelerating the adoption of renewables and increasing efficiencies, thus strengthening the fight against climate change," said Shantanu Mukherjee, DESA's director of economic policy and analysis.

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