Europe's week: New Russian offensive in east Ukraine & fears of a global food crisis

European Council President Charles Michel, center, looks at destroyed vehicles as he is given a tour of the region of Borodyanka, Ukraine, April 20, 2022.
European Council President Charles Michel, center, looks at destroyed vehicles as he is given a tour of the region of Borodyanka, Ukraine, April 20, 2022. Copyright Dario Pignatelli/European Council via AP
Copyright Dario Pignatelli/European Council via AP
By Euronews
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The Kremlin claimed victory in the city of Mariupol following weeks of bombardment.


The war in Ukraine entered a new phase this week when Russia started its much-awaited offensive in eastern Ukraine.

The main Russian objective was the city of Mariupol where Ukrainian soldiers were holding ground in a massive steel factory.

Moscow has been bombarding the factory with artillery and air raids, and it issued demands for the troops to surrender.

Also under renewed attack was the city of Kharkiv.

The military situation was at the centre of talks between the Ukrainian president and EU Council president Charles Michel who traveled to Kyiv this week.

Once again, Michel denounced Russian aggression and underlined European unity to support Ukraine.

"The Kremlin's goal is to destroy the sovereignty of Ukraine. It's also to divide the European Union, and he will not succeed. Recently we have demonstrated even in difficult circumstances that the 27 member states, we were systematically able to make decisions all together by unanimity," Michel said.

Michel pointed to coordinated international efforts to mobilise funds in support of Ukraine, to provide lethal military equipment and humanitarian aid.

Global food crisis

This week, at the Spring Meetings of IMF and World Bank in Washington, some stark warnings were heard again that the war in Ukraine will lead to hunger in some parts of the world – and for quite some time.

“The war and the consequences of that are putting stress on poor people around the world," David Malpass, World Bank president said. "One of the key transmission mechanisms is the shortages of food, energy and fertilizer.

"Fertiliser and energy are critical for the crop cycle, so they're building on each other and creating a food insecurity crisis that will last at least months and probably into next year."

The global food insecurity sparked by Russia together with western unity and determination to support Ukraine can give the impression there is a united international response to Vladimir Putin's invasion.

But that's not the case: The fight for Ukraine's independence and sovereignty is not a global cause and most governments do not seem to care.

Bruce Jones, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington explained the complexity of reasons behind this.s

"Each country, for a range of different reasons, has very important relations with Russia," Jones told Euronews. "If you take India, Russia is its most important defense supplier. It's the only country that's been willing to share high technology with Idia and the defense realm. India's hypersonic missiles programme, for example, is co-developed with Russia.

"They have been increasingly clear in their public statements that they are opposed to what Russia is doing, but they were not willing to go as far as voting against them. They're trying to preserve that relationship was important to them. Israel has an important, multidimensional relationship with Russia, Brazil through the BRICS. So, all of these countries have important relations with Russia. It doesn't mean they're happy with what Russia is doing, but they don't want to be seen as part of the West's response."

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