Russia’s international minister Sergei Lavrov on Sunday met Egyptian president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi as a part of a tour of a number of African nations designed to counter western accusations that Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine has led to a world meals disaster.
Lavrov’s assembly with the Egyptian chief in addition to with international minister Sameh Shoukry confirmed that Russia had not been remoted from the world over its invasion of Ukraine, the Russian international ministry mentioned.
Egypt, the world’s largest grain importer, depends on Russian and Ukraine for most of its grain imports. It additionally has longstanding financial ties to Moscow through weapons and tourism. Lavrov can be as a result of go to Ethiopia, Uganda and the Republic of the Congo this week.
Russia on Sunday claimed accountability for missile strikes hitting the Ukrainian port of Odesa hours after Moscow signed a deal brokered by the UN and Turkey to permit Kyiv to renew grain exports from its Black Sea ports.
Two cruise missiles hit Odesa on Saturday and two others had been shot down by Ukrainian air defences, in response to Serhiy Bratchuk, a spokesman for Ukraine’s southern army command.
African nations have largely prevented taking sides since Russia determined a full-scale invasion of Ukraine. However Moscow’s blockade of the Black Sea has hit Ukraine’s grain exports, pushing up meals costs and leaving nations within the Center East and Africa struggling to safe wheat.
Referred to as the breadbasket of Europe, Ukraine produced 33mn tonnes of the cereal final yr. The world’s fifth-largest exporter of the cereal, it accounts for 80 per cent of Lebanon’s imports and is a significant provider for nations together with Somalia, Syria and Libya. Russia is the world’s largest wheat exporter.
“Speculations by western and Ukrainian propaganda that Russia is allegedly ‘exporting starvation’ are completely groundless,” Lavrov wrote in a letter revealed within the newspapers of the African nations he’s visiting.
Moscow has additionally sought to counter western accusations that it acted as a colonial energy by bombing and occupying giant swaths of Ukraine. Russia is “not stained with the bloody crimes of colonialism” and “doesn’t impose something on others, or educate them tips on how to reside”, Lavrov wrote.
He additionally praised “the balanced place of Africans on what is occurring in and round Ukraine”.
Russia has cultivated ties within the area by means of commodities, weapons and vitality offers, in addition to by deploying Russian mercenaries linked to the Kremlin to assist native political leaders or actions in some areas and foment discord in others.
In a press release after conferences in Cairo, Lavrov mentioned Russia’s grain export commitments to purchasers can be fulfilled. He additionally mentioned the deal over grain exports was a “package deal” of measures associated to each Russian and Ukrainian grain.
“Points regarding Ukrainian grain might be resolved by means of the institution of a co-ordination centre in Istanbul, will probably be assured that the Ukrainians will clear their territorial waters and permit ships to depart there, and through their passage on the open sea, Russia and Turkey with their naval forces will guarantee their security,” Lavrov mentioned.
On Sunday Ukraine’s infrastructure minister Oleksandr Kubrakov on Fb mentioned Kiyv would “proceed the technical preparation” for the implementation of the deal.
The Biden administration was sceptical of the deal on the outset and whereas US officers imagine it could possibly be useful if carried out, they don’t seem to be hopeful that Russia will abide by its commitments.
Washington is constant to ship heavy weapons to Ukraine, together with 4 extra superior rocket programs final week. However officers mentioned Russia’s actions over the weekend wouldn’t encourage them to ship weapons or present different assist to assist implement a deal that the US shouldn’t be a celebration to and Russia doesn’t seem like abiding by.
The US is taking a look at methods to maneuver grain out of Ukraine, together with rising overland capability and offering funds to farmers to assist them discover extra storage.
Extra reporting by Felicia Schwartz in Washington