At a meeting in Russia, the African Union’s secretary-general informed Vladimir Putin that African countries are innocent victims of Ukraine’s conflict, and that Russia should assist in alleviating their pain.
Macky Sall said during discussions in Sochi that Russian President Vladimir Putin pledged to make it easier to export cereals and fertilizer, but he didn’t elaborate. Putin denied that Moscow was impeding grain exports from Ukrainian ports.
Russia and Ukraine often supply more than 40% of the wheat consumed in Africa. However, since the crisis began, Ukraine’s Black Sea ports have been largely closed to exports. Ukraine has mined the ports to thwart a Russian amphibious attack, and Kyiv and its supporters blame Moscow for the blockade.
“Famine will occur if those ports are not opened,” UN crisis coordinator Amin Awad said in Geneva.
A food shortfall, he claimed, could affect 1.4 billion people and result in mass exodus. The war has compounded Africa’s already-existing food shortages, which have been exacerbated by poor harvests and insecurity. Since Russia invaded Ukraine 100 days ago, food prices have risen dramatically across the continent, putting millions of people at risk of starvation.
Mike Dunford, the chief of the World Food Programme, claimed that more than 80 million people in Africa were food insecure and hungry, up from roughly 50 million this time last year. A national food emergency has been proclaimed in Chad. According to the UN, a third of the population requires food assistance, and the government has requested international assistance.
Senegalese President Macky Sall informed Russian President Vladimir Putin that “our countries, even if they are far from the theater [of action], are victims of this economic disaster.” He claimed he was also arguing on behalf of various Asian, Middle Eastern, and Latin American governments.
Putin stated that Russia is ready to ensure the secure transport of Ukrainian grain through its ports on the Azov and Black seas. He believes that lifting sanctions on Belarus, a strong Russian ally, would be the greatest approach for getting the grain there.
According to some observers, the Kremlin is anticipating that an impending food crisis would put political pressure on the West by causing large new refugee flows to Europe from food-insecure Middle Eastern and African countries.
Putin stated before Friday’s meeting that he is always on Africa’s side, but he did not specifically raise the continent’s food crisis.
Senegal, like many African countries, has avoided taking sides in the crisis, and its president has stated that food supplies should be “outside” of the West’s sanctions against Russia. He stated that he had made this point to the European Council earlier this week.