Food shortages: Russia’s Sergey Lavrov Russia tries to blame the West with support during Africa tour

After a visit to Egypt over the weekend, Lavrov will meet face-to-face with Congolese leaders on Monday before heading to Uganda and Ethiopia. All of these countries are heavily dependent on wheat imports from both Russia and Ukraine.

Egypt is the world’s largest wheat importer and depends on Ukraine and Russia for supplies to feed its 100 million people.

Ukraine and Russia on Friday agreed to an agreement that would allow grain exports to resume from Ukrainian Black Sea ports in a major diplomatic breakthrough aimed at easing the global food crisis caused by the war.

On Sunday, a senior Moscow diplomat met with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shukri. During this meeting, Lavrov accused Ukraine of stagnation in negotiations on a “wider range of issues.”

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), global food prices have risen 17% since January.

Lavrov said during talks with his Egyptian counterpart that the deal to liberate Ukrainian ports would be implemented.

“It will be guaranteed that the Ukrainians will clear their territorial waters and allow ships to leave from there, and during their passage on the high seas, Russia and Turkey will ensure their security with their naval forces,” Lavrov said.

“Arsenal of Terror”

Russia has been accused of using food as a weapon of war, and European Commission head Ursula von der Leyen said last week that food has become part of the Kremlin’s “arsenal of terror”.

“This is a cold, heartless and calculated siege by Putin on some of the most vulnerable countries and people in the world… and we cannot tolerate it,” von der Leyen told EU lawmakers.

However, Lavrov sought to absolve Moscow of responsibility for the lack of goods, instead blaming the West in a letter written Friday to African newspapers and released by the Russian Foreign Ministry ahead of his departure.

Mothers forced to bury their children for fear of starvation over Somalia

“Western and Ukrainian propaganda accusing Russia of allegedly “exporting hunger” is completely groundless,” Lavrov wrote, calling it an attempt to shift responsibility.

Instead, he argued that the “collective West” has monopolized the flow of goods and supplies during the Covid-19 pandemic, worsening the food import situation in developing countries, which was further exacerbated by the sanctions imposed on Russia.

But it is in Africa that there is a shortage of food. The United Nations has warned that up to 49 million people could be pushed into hunger or famine-like conditions due to the devastating impact of the war in Ukraine on global food supplies and prices,
In 2021, Eritrea purchased all of its wheat imports from Ukraine and Russia. according to FAO June 2022 report. And in Somalia, a country already suffering from a severe drought, there has been a spike in malnutrition cases and at least a doubling in wheat prices.

Most African countries did not condemn the Russian invasion of Ukraine, as they sought to maintain a balance in relations with Moscow and the West.

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This is a position Russia seeks to defend, and Lavrov uses the trip to highlight Moscow’s “long-standing” relationship with the African continent, as well as point out that Russia is not “tainted by the bloody crimes of colonialism.”

In the letter, he praised the “balanced stance” of African countries regarding what he called “events in and around Ukraine”, praising his “friends” for not joining the anti-Russian sanctions despite “external pressure of unprecedented magnitude”. “.

“Russia will continue to fulfill in good faith its obligations under international contracts regarding the export of food, fertilizers, energy carriers and other goods vital for Africa. Russia is taking all measures to achieve this,” he wrote in the article “Russia and Africa: partnership with a vision for the future.”

The letter was written on Friday for the Egyptian newspaper Al-Ahram, the Congolese newspaper Les Dépêches de Brazzaville, the Ugandan newspaper New Vision and the Ethiopian newspaper Ethiopia Herald.