Africa “taken hostage” by Russia’s invasion, says Zelenskyy
KYIV, Ukraine – Ukraine’s president has told the African Union that the continent has been “held hostage” in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine amid catastrophically rising food prices.
President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s closed door speech followed weeks of requests that he address African nations.
Many of them have close ties to Russia and failed to support a UN General Assembly resolution condemning the invasion.
Ukraine and the West hope to weaken those ties by emphasizing that Russia’s actions are to blame for dramatic shortages of wheat and cooking oils and soaring food and fuel prices across Africa.
Russia’s blockade of Ukrainian exports is a “war crime”, the EU’s top diplomat, Josep Borrell, said on Monday.
“They are trying to use you and the people’s suffering to put pressure on the democracies that have imposed sanctions on Russia,” Zelenskyy told the AU, whose leader recently met with President Vladimir Putin in Russia and echoed Moscow’s claim that Western authorities. the sanctions are partly to blame for the food safety crisis.
They appealed to other countries to ensure that grain and fertilizer exports from Russia and Ukraine are not blocked.
Millions of people in the Horn of Africa, including Ethiopia and Somalia, are now struggling to find food or even humanitarian food aid amid a historic drought.
The Associated Press was the first to report hundreds of deaths this year in Somalia alone.
“We know for sure that there will be more deaths … well into 2023,” USAID’s mission chief in Ethiopia, Sean Jones, told the AP last week.
The official reaction to Mr. Zelenskyy’s speech was muted.
African Union Commission chairman Moussa Faki Mahamat, one of the figures who met Putin, tweeted that African nations “reiterated the AU’s position on the urgent need for dialogue to end the conflict”.
The current AU chair and Senegalese president Macky Sall tweeted that Africa respects “the peaceful resolution of conflicts and the freedom of trade”.
Russia is the largest arms exporter to sub-Saharan Africa, and Moscow emphasizes its long ties with African nations dating back to the Soviet Union. At the same time, some African leaders are outraged by the efforts of global powers to pick sides.
Ukraine will press its case again later this week when its foreign minister addresses Africa-based reporters in a briefing organized by the US government on how “the Russian Federation’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine affects food security on the African continent”.
The EU’s top diplomat said he has written to all African foreign ministers to explain that the bloc’s sanctions against Russia are not responsible for the looming global food crisis, and pledged to work out ways for food and fertilizer exports to reach the continent.
Source: The Herald