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Washington Urges African Leaders: Address Grain Crisis

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Thursday urged African leaders attending a summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin to demand answers on the grain crisis that has plunged poorer countries into crisis. Speaking on the eve of a Russia-Africa meeting in Putin’s hometown of Saint Petersburg, Antony Blinken insisted that African leaders knew that rising food costs and food shortages cereals and fertilizers were the direct consequence of the war waged by Vladimir Putin in Ukraine.

Delegations from 49 African countries including 17 Heads of State are expected at the top of the Konstantinovsky Palace, in particular South African President Cyril Ramaphosa. “They know exactly who is responsible for the current situation,” Antony Blinken said of the leaders, some of whom offered tacit support to Moscow or refused to denounce the Russian invasion of Ukraine. “I expect Russia to hear this message clearly from its African partners,” he said during a visit to New Zealand.

The grain crisis has intensified since Russia abandoned an agreement that since summer 2022 has allowed Ukraine to export its grain through the Black Sea, including to Africa, despite the Russian blockade of ports. Ukrainians. In one year, this agreement had enabled nearly 33 million tonnes of cereals to leave Ukrainian ports, helping to stabilize world food prices and avert the risk of shortages. “It was the equivalent of exporting 18 billion loaves of bread through this corridor alone which Russia has now closed,” Antony Blinken said. “It wasn’t just about withdrawing. What have they been doing since they retired? They repeatedly shelled the port of Odessa. They laid mines in the Black Sea. They expressly threatened the movement of maritime cargo. I think that’s a very clear message.”

Isolated on the international scene since the launch of his military offensive in Ukraine in 2022, the master of the Kremlin can always count on the support, or neutrality, of many African countries. In recent days, Russia has tried to reassure its African partners, saying it understands their “concern” on the subject and ensuring that it is ready to export its cereals “free of charge” to the countries which need it most. According to the latest monthly report from the US Department of Agriculture, major exporters’ wheat stocks are currently at their lowest level in a decade.

This article is originally published on lefigaro.fr

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