African leaders pushed Russian President Vladimir Putin to take steps in direction of moving forward in ending the war with Ukraine and also activate the deal of Ukrainian grain export severely important to Africa.
Russia quit from the wartime Ukrainian export of grains, a major portion of which was sent to Africa, claiming that USA and European companies had misused the grain deal which resulted in only a meagre share reaching the poor African nations.
The African leaders did not directly blame Russia but on the second and the last of the Africa-Russia Summit, forced themselves on Russia with a collective effort. They emphasized on the deep and fiery concerns surrounding Africa as a result of the war, one of the major issue being rising food prices.
According to Reuters, African leaders planned in June to forward steps to end the conflict. The African plan includes withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukraine and tactical nuclear weapons from Belarus, suspension of an International Criminal Court arrest warrant against Putin, and sanctions relief.
When the leaders presented their plan to Putin, he took it coldly. Reiterating his stand on the world stage on Friday, he said that Ukraine and the West are to be blamed for the war and not Russia.
At the summit in St Petersburg, addressing told Putin and African leaders Moussa Faki Mahamat,” African Union Commission Chairman, said, “This war must end. And it can only end on the basis of justice and reason. The disruptions of energy and grain supplies must end immediately. The grain deal must be extended for the benefit of all the peoples of the world, Africans in particular.”
Terming it as initiative that “deserves the closest attention”, Congo Republic President Denis Sassou Nguesso called “urgently” for peace. South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, while addressing Putin, said, “We feel that we have a right to call for peace – the ongoing conflict also negatively affects us.”
Kremlin later released an eight-minute video of Putin’s statement on Africa’s peace plan. In the statement, he repeated his accusations against the West of supporting a “coup” in Kyiv in 2014, when a continuous protests of people on streets forced Ukraine’s pro-Russian president to escape. It also accused the US of luring Ukraine into NATO, led by the Western power, and sabotage Russian statehood.
Putin also blamed Ukraine of not negotiating under the mandate last year before which he claimed, in September, to have conquered four regions under Ukraine and added, “The ball is entirely in their court.”
Seemed convinced, AU chair Azali Assoumani said “now we have to convince the other side”, as Putin has shown interest in talking. However, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has refused to quit the war as, according to him, that would let Russia be in control of nearly a fifth of Ukraine and strengthen Putin’s forces after 17 months of war.
At the summit, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi urged Russia to revive the Black Sea grain deal which, until Moscow refused to renew it last week, had granted Ukraine a “safe corridor” to export grain from its seaports despite the conflict.
Egypt is a big buyer of grain via the Black Sea route, and Sisi told the summit it was “essential to reach agreement” on reviving the deal.
Putin responded by arguing, as he has in the past, that rising world food prices were a consequence of Western policy mistakes long predating the Ukraine war. He has repeatedly said Russia quit the agreement because the deal was not getting grain to the poorest countries and the West was not keeping its side of the bargain.