Azali Assoumani has called on all parties to ensure the exports of grain and fertilizers from Ukraine and Russia

Finding a way to end the Russia-Ukraine conflict would mean saving “thousands” of people who rely on the exports of grain and other foodstuff from the Black Sea region, African Union chair Azali Assoumani said on Thursday. 

Speaking at the opening of the two-day Russia-Africa summit in St. Petersburg, Assoumani, who is also the president of the Comoros, called for a “peaceful coexistence” of Russia and Ukraine, urging to revive the 2022 grain-shipping deal. 

“I have no choice but to notice today that with the Russia-Ukraine crisis the future of this partnership will be under threat should the crisis persist. Therefore, we need to find a resolution to the crisis in order to try to save the thousands of people who depend on these imports,” Assoumani said, as cited by WION news network. 

Africa’s economic food security will be particularly endangered since the continent is badly affected by the shock of food price increases provoked by the interruption to supplies. We appeal … to the stakeholders to find a middle ground to ensure the safe delivery of cereals and fertilizers from Ukraine and Russia towards our continent.

Earlier this month, Moscow declined to extend the internationally brokered deal, which was struck in July 2022 to facilitate the resumption of grain exports from Ukrainian ports previously interrupted by the fighting. According to the Kremlin, the Western countries have failed to hold up their end of the bargain by not removing obstacles to the shipments of fertilizers and food from Russia. Although these exports are not directly subjected to Western sanctions, Moscow insists that wider restrictions placed on Russian banks, logistics, and insurance render the shipments untenable.

READ MORE: Putin pledges grain aid to Africa

President Vladimir Putin said Russia would “immediately” return to full compliance with the grain agreement after its concerns would be addressed. Speaking in St. Petersburg on Thursday, the Russian leader promised that Moscow would deliver grain for free to some of Africa’s poorest countries.

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