Senegalese President Macky Sall, who chairs the African Union, on Friday told Russian President Vladimir Putin that African countries are innocent victims of the war in Ukraine and that Moscow should help ease their suffering, reported Reuters.
He said food supplies should be outside of Western sanctions which were imposed on Moscow after Putin sent troops to Ukraine on February 24.
Putin and Sall met in the Sochi city on Friday. The Senegalese president was accompanied by the chairman of the African Union Commission, Chadian Moussa Faki Mahamat.
After the meeting, Sall said Putin had promised to ease the export of cereals and fertilizer to Africa. However, he gave no further details.
After the meeting, the Senegalese president told journalists that President Putin was committed and well aware of the fact that the crisis and sanctions create serious problems for weaker economies including the African economies.
He said that he was very reassured and very happy after the talks.
Mr. Putin denied that his government was preventing Ukrainian ports from exporting grain.
“If someone wants to solve the problem of exporting Ukrainian grain – please, the easiest way is through Belarus. No one is stopping it,” the Russian president said. “But for this, you have to lift sanctions from Belarus.”
The Senegalese president also blamed the West’s sanctions that restricted access to grain from Russia and especially fertilizer, which he said was crucial for Africa’s already deficient agriculture.
Notably, Russia and Ukraine account for more than 40% of wheat supply to African countries. Wheat prices have soared around 45% as a result of the supply disruption, according to the African Development Bank.
The UN has warned that 18 million people are likely to face severe hunger in the Sahel, the part of Africa just below the Sahara Desert where farmers are facing their worst agricultural production in more than a decade.