Ukrainian Foreign Ministry responded to the call of the President of Senegal to trust Putin and clear the ports

The speaker of the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry, Oleg Nikolenko, responded to the call of the head of the African Union, Macky Sall, to clear Ukrainian ports for the export of grain to African countries, despite the threat from the Russian Federation.

Sall said that Russian President Vladimir Putin, during their meeting, assured that the Russian Federation would not attack if the Ukrainian ports were cleared of mines.

“I even told him: “The Ukrainians said that if they clear mines, you will enter the port.” He says no, he won’t come in, and that’s the commitment he made. Now there must be demining work with the participation of the United Nations … so that we can start exporting Ukrainian wheat,” said the head of the African Union and the president of Senegal.

To this statement, Oleg Nikolenko replied that Ukraine has always been a reliable supplier of agricultural products to African markets and is determined to resume grain exports to help countries ensure their food security.

Africa is facing a surge in food prices and a potential famine because Russia invaded Ukraine. The Russian army is destroying critical agricultural infrastructure, blocking Ukraine’s sea ports and grain terminals and launching missile attacks on Ukraine’s southern agricultural regions. Russia also steals grain from the Ukrainian territories it has seized by force.

In that context, it is frustrating to hear that Ukraine must do something while not condemning Russia and calling on it to end its devastating war. We have learned the lesson that President Putin’s words cannot be trusted. He and his officials stated publicly on countless occasions before 24 February that Russia will not invade Ukraine. It did invade. The Russian military leadership promised that their army will not attack civilian infrastructure and civilian populations. Right now it destroys cities and villages, turning them in to nothing more than rubble and scorched earth. The death toll of civilians has already reached thousands. 20% of Ukrainian territory is currently illegally occupied by Russia.

For this reason, the legitimate security concerns of Ukraine must be respected. Ukraine has proposed a three-point plan that will enable the unblocking of its sea ports in order to resume grain exports: Russia must withdraw its naval forces in the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov, military equipment should be provided to protect Ukraine’s southern coastline in case Russia decides to take advantage of the demining, and an international navy mission must be launched to patrol the export routes.

We call on President Macky Sall and the African Union to use their leverage on Russia to convince it to stop its senseless hostilities. Ending the war will allow 22 million tons of grains stuck in the sea ports to be unblocked and avert a food crises in Africa and beyond.

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