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Investing in a timber industry for future generations, President Zelenskiy announced yesterday at a national ecology forum a goal to plant 1 billion trees over the three years remaining in his term

. Recently, Ukrainians carried out a national campaign, planting 1 million trees in 24 hours. To plant 1 billion trees, it would be necessary to plant 1 million trees every day for three years. On a more realistic note, President Zelenskiy signed into law yesterday a ban on conventional plastic bags, effective next Jan. 1. Stores are to switch to biodegradable bags.

After last year’s drought caused up to $4 billion in crop losses to southern farmers,

 the Agriculture Ministry is launching a pilot project to restore irrigation systems in Odesa, Kherson, Mykolaiv and Zaporizhia regions. Minister Leshchenko writes on Facebook: “We will rebuild and expand reclamation systems with private and public capital.” Two weeks ago, land reclamation responsibilities were returned to the Ministry of Agriculture.

Two thirds of Ukraine’s farmland is at risk of drought due to climate change,

Ukraine’s Agriculture Minister Roman Leshchenko told the Ukraine 30 Ecology forum yesterday. “Climate change is taking place and in fact two thirds of our territory is becoming a zone of risky agriculture,” he said. “Especially critical points are July-August.” Farmers should shift to low till, low chemical techniques that use harvesters that shred crop residues, returning them to the soil. Six million hectares, largely in southern Ukraine, urgently need conservation, he said.

China’s growing appetite for wheat and soybeans, a severe drought in Brazil,

growing demand for vegetable oil for biodiesel, and supply chain disruptions caused by the pandemic were cited last week by the Financial Times as reasons for rising food prices. “The drought in Brazil turned out to be worse than everyone expected,” FAO senior economist Abdolreza Abbassian tells the FT. “Therefore, it remains to pray that the weather in the United States is good.”

Ukraine’s Internal Affairs Minister Arsen Avakov predicted Saturday that after the launch of Nord Stream 2 Russia could sabotage the pipeline to justify stopping gas transit across Ukraine.

Avakov told reporters: “We expect that there will be provocations, attempted terrorist attacks on our section of the gas pipeline. And then they will say: ‘Look, you see, that is why we transport it through Nord Stream 2.’” Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba arrives in Berlin today for two days of talks with German officials.

The Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, has told a US Congressional committee Monday that Nord Stream 2 is a “fait accompli.”

Referring to worries that this Ukraine bypass pipeline will free Russia to attack Ukraine, Blinken told the House Foreign Affairs Committee: “We have agreements in place, upfront, to come back on any activities by Russia that are challenging the security or economic security of any of those countries.” Russian officials say the $11 billion; 1,230 km pipeline is 95% complete and will be ready to carry gas this fall.

Biden will “stand up firmly for Ukraine’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and aspirations,”

US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters about next week’s meeting with Putin. In an interview with Axios posted on Sunday, Zelenskiy asked for a meeting with Biden, complaining about Biden’s decision last month to stop trying to block the Nord Stream 2 Russia-Germany Baltic gas line. “This is a weapon, a real weapon…in the hands of the Russian Federation,” Zelenskiy said. “It is not very understandable…that the bullets to this weapon can possibly be provided by such a

President Biden has invited President Zelenskiy to visit the White House next month.

 Yesterday the two leaders spoke in advance of two critical meetings that are scheduled for next week. Next Monday, there will be a NATO heads of government meeting in Brussels. Ukraine has not been invited as an observer. Two days later, on June 16, Biden and Vladimir Putin meet in Geneva for their first one on one summit.

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