Ukraine rallies Africa's support in war with Russia

Wednesday June 29 2022
Ukraine Minister

Ukrainian foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba

By Paul Owere

Ukrainian foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba has said that his country is willing to unconditionally resume exports of grain to Africa and other parts of the world should Russia end the naval blockade in the Black Sea.

His call echoed Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky’s call to African leaders where he zeroed in on the conflict’s economic ramifications for Africa: high food prices caused by a war between two of the world’s largest grain producers, which have worsened food insecurity

Speaking in an interview with The Citizen, Mr Kuleba said the current alternative routes of export which include roads and railway cannot meet the global demands for Ukraine’s produce.

Exports

He urged the world and all African states to work together and pressure Russia to allow a safe sea route for our food exports.

“Time is running out for us, but also for you.  And we want to resolve the problem within the next few weeks.  Blocking Ukraine’s food exports longer would undermine the ability of our farmers to proceed with the new harvest and elevate the risk of interrupting Ukraine’s agricultural cycle for another year.  This can put the world at risk of a multi-year food crisis,” he said

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   He added: African states have a crucial role in this, and many already working together with us to achieve it.  African capitals matter, and they do influence Russia’s position.

Despite many of Africa’s countries maintaining a neutral position in the conflict which has entered its fifth month, he said that Ukraine will make sure it keeps its part of the bargain.

“Ukraine will continue working closely with all African nations in the coming days and weeks to ensure that all our contracted goods reach your markets, and to overcome the global food crisis provoked by Russia’s irresponsible actions.”

In his assessment, the absence of Ukraine’s products in the market cannot be replaced by products from other countries quickly.

“Ukraine’s share of the global food market is enormous.  Ukraine provides 10 percent of the world’s wheat, 14 percent of the world’s corn, and 47 percent of the world’s sunflower oil,” said Mr Kuleba.  

Grains

According to him, the world now faces a financial and social crisis because of the conflict and neither Africa nor Ukraine can afford the effects.

“Russia will make its money on selling gas and oil.  Russia has enough of wheat to feed itself, but for us, for you, this crisis is unbearable.  We are in the same boat in this crisis, and this is why we, in particular, will develop routes and fight for the opening of the sea route to ensure that these supplies work, that you get what you – what is owed to you, and we get what we need from you in return,” he said.

Regarding the mining the Port of Odessa in the Black Sea he said they chose to do so because for Ukraine it was a matter of survival.

Protective measures were taken.  So we shouldn’t be buying the argument that it’s Ukraine who blocked the sea with its mines in order not to allow the shipment or the vessels to come in and out. Russia was mining the sea.  We were mining the sea to defend ourselves.  The Russians were mining it to destroy our ships.

He said the mines should not be a stumbling block to exporting Ukrainian agricultural products to the world. 

“The real issue is what happens when the harbor is demined.  Who will ensure and how it can be ensured that Russia will not abuse open harbor and attack Odessa from the sea?  This is the question that everyone should be asking: how to make sure that Russia doesn’t attack Odessa from the sea,” he said.