Russia asserted on Friday that it was not to blame for the global food crisis, as leaders of the African Union gathered with President Vladimir Putin to discuss its impact on their continent.
Africa is extremely reliant on grain imports from Russia and Ukraine, which have been severely interrupted since Russia’s invasion of its neighbour 100 days ago.
Senegal’s President Macky Sall, leader of the African Union, said Putin during a meeting in the Russian resort of Sochi, “I have come to visit you to ask you to be aware that our countries, even far from the theatre (of war), are victims of this economic disaster.”
In remarks shown on official television, Sall informed him that the majority of African nations had avoided opposing Russia’s activities in Ukraine during United Nations voting.
Putin made no mention of the food issue in his televised remarks, although he did express a desire to deepen connections with Africa.
Russia’s armed forces control access to Ukraine’s Black Sea ports and have captured much of the country’s southern coastline. However, it continues to blame Ukraine and the West for the consequent stop in grain exports from Ukraine.
Before the meeting, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told reporters, “With a high degree of probability and trust, I can predict that the president will provide thorough explanations of his view of the situation with Ukrainian grain.”
Peskov stated, “The president will explain to our African allies the true state of circumstances, who has mined the ports, what is required for grain to leave, and that no one on the Russian side is blocking these ports.”
Moscow attributes the issue to naval mines floating near Ukrainian ports and to Western sanctions that have a negative impact on its own grain and fertiliser exports due to their influence on shipping, banking, and insurance.
Sall stated that he has spoken with the European Union this week and that all food and grain shipments should be exempt from sanctions.
The escalating crisis has caused the prices of grains, cooking oils, fuel, and fertiliser to skyrocket in African nations.
Russia and Ukraine produce roughly one-third of the world’s wheat, while Russia is also a big supplier of fertiliser and Ukraine is a large exporter of corn and sunflower oil.
Russia has stated that it is willing to permit food-carrying vessels to leave Ukraine in exchange for the relaxation of some sanctions against the country, a proposal that Ukraine has referred to as “blackmail.”