Jokowi is on ‘mission’ to stop Ukraine war, avert food crisis

Arie Firdaus
2022.06.27
Jakarta
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Jokowi is on ‘mission’ to stop Ukraine war, avert food crisis U.S. President Joe Biden (third from right), and Indonesia President Joko Widodo (fourth from left) smile with other leaders and guests as they get ready for a group G7 photo, June 27, 2022, at Elmau Castle in southern Germany.
Ludovic Marin/AFP

Indonesian President and G20 chairman Joko “Jokowi” Widodo is in Europe this week, he said, on a “mission” to stop the war between global breadbaskets Russia and Ukraine to alleviate a potential global food crisis.

Jokowi, who will visit Kyiv and Moscow after attending the G7 summit in Germany on Monday and Tuesday as an observer, said he would urge Volodymyr Zelenskyy to open a peace dialogue and ask Vladimir Putin to declare a ceasefire.

“After Germany, I will visit Ukraine,” Jokowi told reporters on Sunday before departing for Germany. “My mission is to call on Ukrainian President Zelenskyy to open space for dialogue in the context of peace, to build peace, because the war must stop and the supply chain of food must be reactivated.”

Jokowi also plans to visit Russia.

“I will invite President Putin to open space for dialogue and as soon as possible enter a ceasefire and stop the war,” he said.

Jokowi said he would implore leaders of the G7 group of industrialized countries at their summit in Germany to find ways for peace between Russia and Ukraine and an immediate solution to the global food crisis. He said the crisis could send developing and poor countries “into the abyss of extreme poverty and hunger.

“It’s not an easy thing to do, but we, Indonesia, will keep trying,” he said.

Teuku Faizasyah, Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman, declined to provide details about Jokowi’s itinerary.

Russia’s TASS news agency reported earlier this month that Jokowi was scheduled to meet with Putin on June 30.

In its April report, the Global Crisis Response Group, set up by the United Nations secretary general, said Ukraine and Russia provide 30 percent of the world’s wheat and barley, a fifth of its maize, and more than half of its sunflower oil. Russia is the world’s largest natural gas exporter and second largest oil exporter.

Indonesia, this year’s rotating leader of the G20 group of major economies, voted for a United Nations General Assembly resolution in March that condemned Russia’s military strike on Ukraine. Despite that vote, government leaders have not criticized Moscow directly.

The United States has urged Indonesia not to invite member-state Russia to the G20 summit, scheduled for November in Bali, but Jakarta so far has refused.

Instead, Indonesia has invited Zelenskyy as a guest. In March, U.S. President Joe Biden said Ukraine should be able to participate in the G20 summit if Russia was not expelled.

‘Protect the most vulnerable’

Meanwhile, the group ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR) urged the economic ministers of Southeast Asian countries to meet and agree on measures to tackle “impending food shortages and widespread hunger currently threatening millions of their fellow citizens.

“Climate change, the ravages of COVID-19, inequality in access to resources, and now Russia’s war on Ukraine, are having devastating impacts that no country can solve alone,” Mercy Barends, an Indonesian lawmaker, was quoted as saying in the statement from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations parliamentarians group.

Rising food prices could further increase the number of undernourished people in ASEAN and worsen the suffering of displaced people, including 1 million in Myanmar who fled their homes because of the violence triggered by a military coup on Feb. 1, 2021, APHR said.

Average inflation rates in ASEAN member-states climbed to 4.7 percent in April 2022 from 3.1 percent in December 2021, according to APHR.

“It is necessary to urgently put in place a coordinated effort to protect the most vulnerable from a potentially devastating economic downturn,” Barends said.

Rifai Hasan, an international relations lecturer at Paramadina University in Jakarta, expressed pessimism that Jokowi’s trips to Russia and Ukraine would bring about peace.

“This is a huge issue and concerns Russia’s strategic interests and those of the West there. So it must be kept in mind that the impact of this visit will be very limited,” Rifai told BenarNews.

Nuriyeni Bintarsari, an analyst at Jenderal Soedirman University in Purwokerto, was more optimistic.

She said Jokowi’s decision to visit Ukraine before traveling to Russia could be seen as his way of showing support for the war-torn nation.

“The moral symbolism shown by the visit … may well prompt Russia to reduce its special military operations in Ukraine,” she told BenarNews.

Alvin Prasetyo in Jakarta contributed to this report.

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