Poland's OSCE chief warns of 'devastating' effects of Ukraine war

Roman Zawistowski/PAP

Zbigniew Rau, Poland's foreign minister and the chairman of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), has said the consequences of Russia's war on Ukraine are “devastating” for the global economy and climate.

Rau was speaking as he opened the Second Preparatory Meeting of the 30th OSCE Economic and Environmental Forum on Monday, a two-day conference in Lodz, central Poland.

OSCE Secretary-General Helga Schmid and environmental policy makers from more than 50 countries are expected to attend the event.

The main topic of the forum is "promoting security and stability in the OSCE area through sustainable economic recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic," according to the organisers.

But, as Rau said, the current challenges "go far beyond our post-pandemic economic growth."

According to the OSCE head, Russia's war on Ukraine has a "destabilising effect" on the world's economy and increases environmental and climate risks.

"Havoc and destruction dominate wherever Russia's troops engage," he said, pointing to the "devastating" consequences of the war on Ukraine's economy.

According to international estimates, cited by Rau, Ukraine has lost around one third of its workforce as a result of the war.

"And the economic and environmental outlook for the country is dire and likely to get even worse," he said.

"Land, water and air pollution caused by unlawful military activity poses direct risks to the health of citizens," Rau continued.

According to OSCE chief, the longer the situation continues the more its impact will be felt on generations to come.

"This concerns neighbouring countries alike, and the whole world," he said.

He pointed out that the war had "deeply shaken" financial markets, including those from the OSCE area, that are yet to fully recover from the pandemic.

Among other "serious risks that must be urgently addressed," Rau mentioned deteriorating nuclear safety, food insecurity and unstable energy and commodity markets.