President Berset attending food security summit in Kyiv and meeting President Zelenskyy

Press releases, 25.11.2023

President Alain Berset travelled to Kyiv to attend the International Summit on Food Security on Saturday, 25 November, where he met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. In addition to the impact of Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine on global food security, the talks focused on bilateral relations and Switzerland's long-term solidarity with Ukraine as well as the Ukrainian peace formula. Summit participants also commemorated the millions of victims in Ukraine who starved to death during the Holodomor caused by the Soviet leadership 90 years ago.

The main topic of the summit, which was attended by other heads of state and government, and an important topic of discussion at the meeting with President Zelenskyy, was concern about global food security. As a result of Russia's war of aggression, agricultural production in Ukraine has fallen by 45 per cent; around 11 million people in the country are dependent on food aid. President Berset announced in Kyiv that Switzerland would contribute towards helping those affected by transferring three million francs to the World Food Programme.

However, the effects are also global in nature. Russia's suspension of the Black Sea Initiative and attacks on transport and port facilities are hampering the export of Ukrainian staple foods. Switzerland welcomes the UN's ongoing efforts to facilitate the unhindered export of food and fertilisers to world markets via the Black Sea. Rapid and substantial results are essential to improve the situation of those threatened by hunger in Ukraine and worldwide, explained Mr Berset.

The summit coincided with Ukraine's commemoration of the Holodomor, during which an estimated four to seven million people died in 1932/33 as a result of the brutal policies of the Soviet leadership under Joseph Stalin. President Berset laid flowers at the memorial in Kyiv in memory of the victims. Before the summit, he also visited the town of Bucha, where atrocities were committed during the initial phase of Russia's war of aggression.

Commitment to reconstruction
In talks with President Zelenskyy, President Berset stressed that Switzerland stands in solidarity with Ukraine for the long haul, even in times of multiple concurrent crises. At the end of September, the Federal Council approved funds totalling CHF 100 million for humanitarian demining. Among other things, these funds will be used to demine agricultural areas in Ukraine. Switzerland is also participating in the register of damage launched by the Council of Europe and is among the core group of states seeking to establish a special tribunal to address the crime of aggression against Ukraine.

These steps are an expression of solidarity and support the reconstruction process in Ukraine, which Switzerland initiated on a broad scale together with the Ukrainian government at the Ukraine Recovery Conference in Lugano in 2022. The Ukrainian peace formula was also discussed. Mr Berset emphasised that Switzerland is committed to a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in Ukraine.

Switzerland to send further shipment of ambulances and fire engines
The Ukrainian healthcare system is under enormous strain. There is an urgent need for ambulances and fire engines as many have been destroyed in the fighting and there are further casualties every day. Switzerland will therefore continue its support by supplying ten more ambulances financed by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) valued at CHF 650,000, six fire engines and firefighting equipment from the Federal Department of Defence, Civil Protection and Sport (DDPS) worth around CHF 2.3 million, and a used fire engine from the District of Affoltern in the canton of Zurich by December. Swiss experts will also be on site to run training courses on site for the Ukrainian fire service. Several shipments of vehicles have already taken place. With this new shipment, Switzerland will have sent a total of 25 ambulances and 13 fire engines to Ukraine since the start of Russia's military aggression on 24 February 2022, worth around CHF 3.9 million.


Further information:

Bilateral relations Switzerland–Ukraine
War against Ukraine – measures taken by the Confederation since 24 February 2022
Peace formula: Switzerland at meeting in Malta for national security advisers on Ukraine

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