During a Russia-Africa conference in St. Petersburg, which was distinguished by fears about the global economic consequences from the Kremlin’s invasion of Ukraine, the leader of Egypt, Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, encouraged Vladimir Putin to return to the Black Sea grain deal. Al-Sisi made his request to Putin during the summit.
In a statement that was delivered during a plenary session of African delegations that the president of Russia also attended, al-Sisi stated that it was “essential to reach an agreement” on restarting the arrangement. This deal had allowed 33 million tons of Ukrainian grain to reach markets, many of which were in poor nations in Africa.
Moscow explained the reason that it had pulled out of the pact as being that its own agricultural exports were still being hindered. But a number of African nations, like Kenya and Egypt, which is a big importer of Russian grain and is currently going through an acute food crisis, have lashed out fiercely at Russia at the same time that the Kremlin is seeking them as allies in its standoff with the west.
Al-Sisi is quoted in a transcript provided by the government as saying, “I emphasize the importance of finding urgent solutions to provide food and fertilisers at prices that help Africa overcome this crisis.”
“I am looking forward to reaching a consensus on a grain export agreement that not only takes into account demands & interests of all of the parties involved but also puts an end to the continuous increase in grain prices.”
Egypt is the largest grain importer in the world, and almost 80% of the grain it purchases originates from Russia and Ukraine.
On Thursday, Russian media outlets shared a video that showed President Vladimir Putin being forced to wait for Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to arrive at a bilateral meeting. Egypt has stated in the past that it did not agree with Russia’s decision to withdraw from the contract and had stated that it would continue to acquire grain from Ukraine via Europe.
As part of what he referred to as a “humanitarian effort,” Vladimir Putin pledged on Thursday that he would provide free grain to six countries in Africa. Egypt was not one of those countries; the others were Burkina Faso, the Central African Republic, Eritrea, Mali, and Somalia. Zimbabwe was also not included in the group.
Except for Somalia, which is dealing with a humanitarian catastrophe, all of these countries are considered Russian allies.
On Friday, Putin made an additional attempt to assuage the concerns of African leaders, many of whom have called for peace negotiations to bring an end to the conflict in Ukraine. The previous month, he gave a chilly response when asked about a peace plan that was given by officials led by Cyril Ramaphosa, the president of South Africa.
The head of the African Union, which is comprised of 55 different countries, stated that the issue of grain and fertilizer “concerns everyone,” and that so long as a peace agreement is not reached, the organization would continue to advocate for a return to the Black Sea grain trade.
“We will talk about this in St. Petersburg, and we will discuss it with Putin to see how we can restart this agreement,” Azali Assoumani, president of the Comoros and chairman of the African Union, told the Russian state-owned news agency RIA Novosti. Assoumani is also the president of the African Union.
Denis Sassou Nguesso, the president of Congo-Brazzaville, made these remarks during a plenary session on Friday. He stressed that the possibility of peace talks “must not be underestimated.”
Putin has been quoted as saying, “We treat your initiatives with respect and are considering them closely.” He continued by saying, in reference to discussions regarding the issue in Ukraine, “This is an acute problem, and we’re not evading consideration of it.”
The Kremlin has stated that Vladimir Putin will discuss the conflict in Ukraine with the heads of state from African countries during a working dinner on Friday.
Because of the battle, grain and gasoline prices have skyrocketed, which has had a disproportionately negative impact on the economies of African countries. However, African leaders do not have much power with the Kremlin to stop the conflict.
On Friday, there were many who voiced their approval of the Russian armed forces. When Ibrahim Traoré, the interim leader of Burkina Faso and the man responsible for the coup that took place in Burkina Faso a year ago, concluded his address with the words “fatherland or death,” Vladimir Putin praised him.
An invitation to resist “aggressive nationalism, neo-Nazism and neo-fascism, Afrophobia, and Russophobia” was included in the final declaration that participants in the summit unanimously agreed to endorse. The Kremlin has attempted to provide a justification for its invasion of Ukraine by using some of these concepts.
In addition, it supported the “completion of the process of the decolonization of Africa” and asked for reparations to be paid to African states “as a result of colonial policies,” including the return of “cultural artifacts taken away in the process of colonial plunder.”
The grain pact that was brokered by the United Nations in 2022 made it possible for cargo ships to transport grain from Ukrainian ports along a corridor in the Black Sea to markets all over the world.
Since Ukraine pulled out of the agreement, Russia has been conducting attacks on Ukrainian ports and has attacked grain facilities in Odesa and other cities located on the Black Sea and the Danube River.
On Friday, Russia announced that it had intercepted and destroyed a number of Ukrainian missiles in the vicinity of cities in the Rostov region that is located along the Black Sea. According to officials in Rostov, at least 15 people were hurt when a fragment of a rocket landed close to a cafe in the city of Taganrog.