Russia tries to blame West for food shortage as Lavrov backs rallies on Africa tour

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

Egypt is the world’s largest importer of wheat, and depends on Ukraine and Russia for supplies to feed a 100 million strong population.

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

On Sunday, Moscow’s top diplomat met with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shukri. During that meeting, Lavrov blamed Ukraine for the pause in talks on a “broad range of issues”.

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

Lavrov said during talks with his Egyptian counterpart that the deal to free Ukraine’s ports would go ahead.

“It will be guaranteed that the Ukrainians will clear their territorial waters and allow ships to pass, and that Russia and Turkey, along with their military naval forces, will ensure their security when they go to the high seas,” Lavrov said.

‘Arsenal of Terror’

Russia has been accused of using food as a weapon of war and European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen said last week that food has become Part of the “Arsenal of Terror” of the Kremlin.

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

However, Lavrov has been keen to defend Moscow from responsibility for the shortfall, instead blaming the West in a letter written on Friday to newspapers in African countries and published by the Russian Foreign Ministry before his departure. was.

“Western and Ukrainian propaganda that accuses Russia of allegedly ‘exporting hunger’ is completely baseless,” Lavrov wrote, describing them as an attempt to shift responsibility.

Instead, he claimed that the “collective West” had monopolized commodity and supply flows during the COVID-19 pandemic, worsening food imports in developing countries, exacerbated by sanctions against Russia. Is.

But it is in Africa that food shortages are cutting. The United Nations has warned that up to 49 million people can be pushed into Famine or a famine-like situation due to the devastating impact of the Ukraine War on global food supplies and prices,
Eritrea imported all its wheat from Ukraine and Russia in 2021, According to the FAO’s June 2022 report, And in Somalia, a country already suffering from extreme drought, cases of malnutrition have increased and wheat prices have at least doubled.

Most African countries have not condemned the Russian invasion of Ukraine, as they have sought to balance their relations with Moscow and the West.

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It is a position Russia is keen to defend, and Lavrov is using the visit to highlight Moscow’s “longstanding” ties with the African continent, and is also pointing out that Russia is “colonialist”. is not tainted by bloody crimes.”

In the letter, he praised the “balanced position” taken by African countries on “events in and around Ukraine”, praising his “friends” for not engaging in anti-Russian sanctions despite “external pressure on an unprecedented scale”. ” is appreciated.

“Russia will continue to fulfill in good faith its obligations in accordance with international contracts with respect to the export of food, fertilizer, energy and other goods important to Africa. Russia is taking all measures to achieve this,” he said. Russia” is written in the piece. and Africa: Partnerships with a Vision for the Future.”

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