Image Source: CGTN
Sergei Lavrov, the foreign minister of Russia, denied suggestions that his country was to blame for the world food crisis while on a diplomatic visit to Egypt.
In a Cairo address to Arab League ambassadors, he claimed that Western countries were misrepresenting the effects of sanctions on world food security. He charged that the Western world was attempting to impose its supremacy on others.
Grain shortages brought on by Russia’s war in Ukraine are severely affecting a large portion of the Arab world and Africa.
After Russia struck targets in the port of Odesa on Saturday, a historic agreement to restore Ukraine’s grain shipments is in jeopardy. After that, Mr. Lavrov traveled to three African countries to mobilize support amid opposition to the war.
According to Mr. Lavrov, the “aggressiveness” with which Western countries have imposed sanctions against Russia points to one obvious conclusion: “It is not about Ukraine; it is about the future of the global order. Prior to that, Mr. Lavrov spoke with Sameh Shoukry, his Egyptian colleague.
Russia has strong links with Egypt and provides wheat, weaponry, and – prior to the invasion of Ukraine – a significant amount of visitors. In a joint news conference following their discussions, Mr. Lavrov claimed that the West was prolonging the conflict despite knowing “what and whose end it will be.”
For Mr. Lavrov, it is the beginning of a quick trip of Africa that will also take him to Ethiopia, Uganda, and Congo-Brazzaville.
Prior to his journey, local newspapers published a piece by Mr. Lavrov in which he claimed that his nation had “sincerely helped Africans in their struggle for emancipation from the colonial yoke.”
He continued that Russia valued Africans’ “balanced approach” to the Ukrainian crisis.
According to the African Development Bank, Ukraine and Russia typically supply more than 40% of Africa’s wheat. Wheat from Ukraine is typically heavily consumed in Egypt. It imported 3.62 million tonnes of it in 2019, more than any other nation.
However, in his article, Mr. Lavrov refuted the charge that Russia was “exporting starvation” and attributed it to Western propaganda. He continued by saying that the coronavirus pandemic had caused “bad trends” in the global food market, which Western sanctions against Russia had compounded.
Instead, he asserted that during the Covid-19 epidemic, the “collective West” had monopolized commodity and supply flows, aggravating the situation for food imports in underdeveloped nations, which had already been made worse by sanctions against Russia.
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However, the food shortages are most severe in Africa. According to a June 2022 report by FAO, Eritrea sourced all of its wheat imports from Ukraine and Russia in 2021, despite the United Nations’ warning that up to 49 million people could be forced into famine or famine-like conditions as a result of the Ukraine war’s devastating effects on the world’s food supply and prices. Additionally, malnutrition cases have increased, and wheat prices have at least doubled in Somalia, a nation that is already experiencing a terrible drought.
Due to their desire to preserve a balance in their relations with both Moscow and Western nations, the majority of African nations have not denounced Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Russia is exploiting Africa’s reluctance to choose sides
Sergei Lavrov uses statements like “we’ll help you complete the process of decolonization” to attempt and persuade African nations that they would be better off supporting Russia rather than the West.
But it is evident that there is hesitation in picking a side in the conflict in Ukraine throughout a big portion of the continent. This is because African conflicts were inflamed by the Cold War, which also halted progress.
The rising cost of food and fuel is currently the biggest worry. For example, more than 40% of the wheat consumed in Africa comes from Russia and Ukraine.
Some African leaders know that their positions of power are threatened when people can’t afford to eat.
Opinions expressed by California Gazette contributors are their own.