Western sanctions on Russia hurting African countries


Russia says sanctions imposed by the west on Russia are impacting African countries, including Malawi where they have increased the danger of food insecurity.

Western countries have been blocking shipments of fertiliser from Russia in a bid to hurt President Vladimir Putin and businesses in Russia’s fertiliser industry which are accused of funding the war between Russia and Ukraine.

Dmitry Polyanskiy, the First Deputy Permanent Representative of Russia to the UN, told Malawi24 that the sanctions are hurting Africa as they have restricted the export of fertiliser to Africa.

President Putin issued a directive removing charges on Russian fertiliser stuck in European ports. The presidential directive was crucial in having the fertiliser reach Africa without further delays due to the sanctions.

“We are pleased to see that despite unacceptable and unjustified delays the first batch of fertilizes under this initiative was dispatched to Malawi. African countries are able to produce their own agricultural products but they need to be given the opportunity to do so,” Polyanskiy said.

He added that Russia has been Africa’s friend for more than 60 years, supporting the African people’s struggle for self-determination and contributing to the decolonization of the continent.

According to Polyanskiy, Russia is always keen to develop its economic ties with the continent and in the past decade, the country has been working to scale up and diversify our economic ties which was consolidated through the Russian-African Summit.

He also emphasised that Russia’s trade, economic, and political relations with Africa are not subject to any political or worldwide events.

“Our objective is to build economic relations that are mutually beneficial, respect the political choices and without political or other conditions,” he said.

He noted that in the current geopolitical layout, the political and economic pressure on African countries is huge.

He said the whole system of relations between western countries and the developing countries of Africa has been based on creating and maintaining a certain leverage of influence and pressure, something which cannot always work.

“However, I don’t think in the long run the pressure will work because it goes against the course of history and the desire of the continent’s people to own their present and future,” he said. “And African friends have a deep understanding of the hypocrisy of western nations.”

Malawi is one of the countries that has received a donation of fertiliser from Russia to avert food crisis in Africa.

The donation was hailed by the UN Secretary-General António Guterres.

Guterres said the donation of fertilizer from the Russian Federation will “alleviate humanitarian needs and prevent catastrophic crop loss in Africa”.

“The Secretary-General thanks the Governments of the Russian Federation, Malawi and the Government of the Netherlands, in close coordination with the European Union, for their willingness to enable this first critical humanitarian shipment of fertilizer by WFP for global food security” added the Secretary General.

“Reconnecting fertilizer markets is a critical step to ensure global food security for 2023 and the United Nations will continue to make every effort, with all parties, to achieve this goal” reads a statement issued by the UN Secretary-General’s spokesperson.

Fertilizers play a key role in food systems, as 50 per cent of the world population depend on agricultural products that are produced with the help of mineral fertilizers.

However, fertilizer prices have increased by 250 per cent since 2019. The secretary general says this has produced a “fertilizer crunch” that is pricing farmers from the developing world out of production.

The UN believes that nitrogen fertilizer shortages this year could result in a production loss next year of 66 million tons of staple crops (maize, rice and wheat), enough to feed half of the world’s population for a month.

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