Many African countries rely heavily on grain imports from Russia and Ukraine, and the war has disrupted global supplies.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba has pledged his country will do all it can to send more grain to Africa as he kicks off his African tour this week in Senegal.
After meeting Senegal’s president and foreign minister in Dakar on Monday, Kuleba said his country would send “boats full of seeds to Africa”.
“We will do our best until the last breath to continue exporting Ukrainian grain to Africa and the world for food security,” Kuleba said during a joint press briefing with his Senegalese counterpart, Aissata Tall Sall. .
Senegalese President Macky Sall, current chairman of the African Union, has urged Russia and Ukraine to resume grain exports despite the ongoing war.
Many African countries are heavily dependent on grain imports from Russia and Ukraine. Amid market shortages, Russia has sought to paint the West as the bad guy, blaming it for rising food prices.
Western leaders, meanwhile, have accused the Kremlin of cynically using food as a weapon and waging an imperial-style war of conquest.
So far, Africa has remained somewhat neutral on Ukraine: some 25 African countries voted to abstain or did not vote at all on the UN resolution that condemned the war in Ukraine earlier. This year. Senegal was among those who abstained and its president told the UN General Assembly last month that Africa “does not want to be the breeding ground for a new cold war”.
Despite these positions of neutrality, the Ukrainian Foreign Minister declared that he wanted to deepen his country’s ties with Africa.
“I’m not coming to Africa against anyone,” Kuleba said on Monday. “We need to strengthen our cooperation. Our future depends on the relationships we build and what happens every day.
The Ukrainian minister criticized Russia’s statements.
“Senegalese may be surprised if they listen to Russian propaganda. Russia wanted to make believe that [the war is because] Ukraine wants to become a member of NATO. Finland wants to become a member. And yet Russia did not attack it,” he said.
“Russia also believes that we are one people. It’s not true,” Kuleba said. “The language we speak is not the same. We have a different culture and a different people. If someone tried to impose a doctrine on you, you would reject it.