African leaders have long been reluctant to criticize Russia and now that President Vladimir Putin has killed off a deal to allow Ukraine to export grain, they know they are more dependent than ever on Moscow’s largesse to feed millions of people at risk of going hungry.
Having canceled the pact on Monday, Moscow unleashed four nights of attacks on the Ukrainian ports of Odesa and Chornomorsk — two vital export facilities — damaging the infrastructure of global and Ukrainian traders and destroying 60,000 tons of grain. In the latest assault, on Thursday night, a barrage of Kalibr missiles hit the granaries of an agricultural enterprise in Odesa.
“The decision by Russia to exit the Black Sea Grain Initiative is a stab [in] the back,” tweeted Abraham Korir Sing’Oei, a senior foreign ministry official from Kenya, one of the African countries that has received donations of Russian fertilizer in recent months.
The resulting rise in global food prices “disproportionately impacts countries in the Horn of Africa already impacted by drought,” he added.
Sing’Oei’s was a solitary voice, however. Rather than reproaching Moscow, African leaders have remained largely silent as they prepare to attend a summit hosted by Putin in St Petersburg next week. This follows an African mission led by South African President Cyril Ramaphosa last month to Kyiv and St Petersburg in a bid to broker peace. [Continue reading…]