Food aid to the North Korean people is Russia's first large-scale experience of participating in a UN international humanitarian operation, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Yuri Fedotov announced in Moscow on Monday after emergency food aid had been sent to North Korea.
For the first time this has been done "in close cooperation with the World Food Program, the UN largest humanitarian institution that provides emergency food aid," he pointed out. "Thus, it is Russia's first large-scale experience of participating in a UN international humanitarian operation," he said.
He recalled that North Korea was to receive quite a tangible aid of almost 35,000 tons of wheat. "This should alleviate the tension caused by the difficult food situation in the country," Fedotov added.
"We hope that other countries will also make possible contribution to helping the distressed people of North Korea," he said.
Last year Russia for the first time became donor of the UN World Food Program and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, contributing to their funds $11 million and $2 million respectively as voluntary target donations.
Fedotov refuted the speculations that the growing humanitarian generosity of the Russian government encroached on the interests of its own people.
"If we are talking of Russia's target donations to the World Food Program, such estimations are not true," he said.
"Coordinating our donor participation with the UN humanitarian agencies, as is the case with North Korea, we assume that most of the funds contributed by Russia will be used to purchase food from Russian producers and to deliver it to recipient countries by Russian carriers if possible. Thus, taking part in international operations we indirectly return most of the contributed money and sponsor Russia's industrial sector," the deputy minister explained.
"Russia's increased participation in international humanitarian operations has become possible only thanks to positive developments in the Russian economy," he emphasized.
"As Russia's economic growth continues in line with President Putin's task of doubling the country's GDP, its participation in international efforts to provide humanitarian aid and eliminate the consequences of humanitarian and industrial catastrophes may increase. This is in line with the main principles of Russia's foreign policy, interests of strengthening its international prestige," Fedotov underlined.