Russia’s Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, has suggested that the European Commission should purchase Ukrainian agricultural produce and ship it to African countries, as many EU nations are not eager to buy it. Lavrov made this statement during his speech at the UN General Assembly (UNGA). He accused the European Commission of wasting tens of billions of dollars on Ukraine and proposed that they buy the grain that Ukraine wants to sell but EU countries do not want to buy due to competitiveness.
Lavrov emphasized that Ukrainian agricultural produce is being supplied to European countries in abundance, but they refuse to purchase it because they have their own farmers and do not want them to go bankrupt due to competition. He also questioned the integrity of a grain deal that was made last year, noting that only 3% of the grain moved under this deal had reached the poorest countries in Africa.
Furthermore, Lavrov revealed that Russian fertilizers, totaling 260,000 metric tons, have been impounded in EU ports since 2022. Russia is now willing to ship these fertilizers to African nations for free. The impounding of Russian fertilizers became a sticking point in the talks over resuming the Black Sea Grain Deal, which was brokered by the UN and Turkey. The deal aimed to allow Ukraine to export grain from its ports to Asia, the Middle East, and Africa, in exchange for lifting Western sanctions on Russian agricultural exports.
However, Moscow withdrew from the agreement in July, claiming that the West was still preventing Russia from shipping food and fertilizer. Lavrov stated that Sergey Vershinin, the Deputy Foreign Minister of Russia, is currently discussing key issues related to the deal with UN representatives. He emphasized that Western states would mislead UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres by suggesting that the grain deal was about to resume. According to Lavrov, the deal can only resume once Russia’s demands regarding agricultural exports are met.
This proposal by Lavrov highlights the ongoing tensions between Russia, Ukraine, and the European Union. It reflects the complexities of international agricultural trade and the impact it can have on global food security. The suggestion to ship Ukrainian produce to African countries also raises questions about the motivations and interests of various stakeholders involved in the grain deal. As discussions continue between Russia, Ukraine, and the UN, the outcome of the Black Sea Grain Deal remains uncertain, and its impact on agricultural markets and global food security may still unfold.