Mr. President, dear colleagues,

The consequences of war are endless. Human suffering, destruction, environmental catastrophes, and death. Preventing future wars was the reason for founding this organization more than 70 years ago. Yet here we are. The effects of Russia’s war in Ukraine are unfolding before our very eyes. Ukraine urgently needs humanitarian assistance and aid as well as support in resolving war crimes. However, the consequences of this unnecessary and unfounded war are not limited to Ukraine or even to Europe. It will be felt all over the globe creating new security risks as people are beginning to suffer from soaring food prices.

Russia’s war in Ukraine presents never-before-seen consequences for global agriculture and food security. The war is disrupting markets for final agricultural products and affect availability and prices of bread and cooking oil, which are primary sources of calories for millions of people. Fertilizer shortages and soaring costs prevent wealthier and low- and middle-income countries from increasing their own food production to compensate for losses in food imports.

We have not yet seen the peak of this developing food crisis, but its political consequences have already been felt in countries such as Pakistan, Peru and Egypt. As the situation unfolds, we might see famine and increasing unrest in the Middle East and parts of Africa, even in Europe.

So, what can we do? We must stop this war. Let me be very clear: this means that we must stop financing Putin’s war. Since the start of the war the EU has spent nearly 30 billion euros on Russian fossil fuel imports. A huge sum that indirectly pays for the killing of thousands of innocent civilians and the destruction of a whole country. This is completely unsustainable and unacceptable.  

Energy is a climate change and security issue. Yet, the threat of climate change has not led to rapid action on energy transition. Russia’s war on Ukraine has exposed the dangers of single source energy reliance. The Finnish Government recently introduced an 850-million-euro crisis package to phase out the use of fossil fuels and achieve energy self-sufficiency. To further speed up this process we can all reduce energy consumption by changing our own behavior. This will not be enough, but it certainly is a first step to stop funding the aggressor and to save the planet.