Russia’s Famine Games
To draw world attention to weaponising food supply by Russia and Ukraine’s efforts to provide food to those in most need across the globe, despite the destructions of agricultural production and logistics.
Reducing food exports from Ukraine due to Russia's full-scale invasion was a severe blow to the sustainability of the global food system, which has suffered significant damage and has not yet recovered from the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. Russia's destruction of Ukraine's agricultural infrastructure and logistics is purposeful and systematic: from missile strikes on silos to blocking seaports and stealing grain and agricultural machinery. This has led to a sharp reduction in the supply volume on the world food market and a rapid rise in prices of the main crops. Due to the war in Ukraine, the UN World Food Programme lost about 50% of its key supplies in 2022.
Weaponising food is a well-known Russian foreign policy tactic, similar to what Russia has already done with energy supplies for many years. Russia has deliberately launched a famine game in the countries of the world’s most vulnerable regions to bargain for geopolitical advantages at high stakes.
Having analysed a discourse in the global media around this topic, we noticed that the worsening of the global food crisis is often explained by the events taking place both in Ukraine and Russia, without making it clear who is to blame for the war, food supply disruptions and a threat of famine in some areas of the world. It was critical to making Ukraine’s story heard among audiences of the strategic partners and friends in the West and distant regions affected by the food supply reduction due to Russia’s war. Ukraine needed a platform with verified information on food security issues to step up communications and mobilise supporters across the globe to spread the word about Ukraine’s role in the global food system.
A long term communications campaign as a platform to streamline Ukraine’s communications on food security issues to foreign audiences:
- to provide an access to verified information,
- to support Ukraine’s strategic narrative,
- to counter Russia’s attempts to shift the blame for the worsening of the global food crisis.
Creative idea development:
Russia’s Famine Games is a metaphor for communicating all Russia’s hostile activities threatening the world with the global food crisis with a special emphasise on exposing blackmailing and weaponising the food. The idea of campaign is to link the Russia’s full-scale aggression against Ukraine and its negative impact on the food shortage in the most vulnerable regions of the world via the analogy with the survival game.
Online platform war.ukraine.ua/food-security for foreign audiences available in 7 languages - Arabic, English, French, German, Italian, Mandarin, and Spanish.
International communications campaign:
- development of the series of infographics and illustrations available on the website sector for free distribution in news media and social networks,
- human stories of Ukrainian farmers and other participants of agricultural production and logistics in Ukraine (the stories are available on the website sector in the part “Guardians of the Harvest”),
- partnership with Depositphotos photo bank to provide the imagery for the website which depict the scale of Ukraine’s bravery in defending the crops and agricultural logistics,
- promo campaign in social media networks covered by Ukraine’s digital ecosystem Ukraine.ua in English, Arabic and Mandarin,
- BRAND UKRAINE launched the campaign in cooperation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine and Ukraine’s diplomatic missions abroad.
Top stories from partners
“By blocking Ukrainian seaports since February, Russia has denied millions of people worldwide access to Ukrainian food exports, thus putting them at risk of hunger. Simultaneously, Russian propaganda has launched a cynical campaign of lies to block these people’s access to facts and shift the blame for Russia’s famine game to Ukraine and the West. We are gradually unblocking the Ukrainian food exports, but also breaking through the information blockade with a new communication campaign and a special online platform”, Dmytro Kuleba, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine.
Campaign reached 32.6 mln contacts in total via Ukraine.ua digital ecosystem and publications in media and social media. There were 12.4K posts on social media platforms from 10.4K authors covering 137 countries.
The landing page of the campaign is among TOP-5 most visited sectors of war.ukraine.ua and the most visited one for the Arabic version.
We are particularly grateful to
THE EUROPEAN UNION
THE DEPARTMENT FOR ECONOMIC DIPLOMACY OF THE MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS OF UKRAINE
THE DEPARTMENT FOR COMMUNICATIONS AND PUBLIC DIPLOMACY OF THE MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS OF UKRAINE
THE MINISTRY OF INFRASTRUCTURE OF UKRAINE
THE MINISTRY OF AGRARIAN POLICY AND FOOD OF UKRAINE
Project Lead: Marina Dadinova
Creative Copywriter: Alina Taranenko
Web development: plusone
Content production coordination: Yulia Kleban
Ukraine.ua team: Yaroslav Turbil, Mariia Palivoda
PR: Sofia Dzurynska