Senegalese President Macky Sall, who currently presides over the African Union, on Sunday called on Brussels to give African countries some leeway to pay for grains and fertilizers imported from Russia, despite EU sanctions excluding Russian banks from international payment systems.
“We want to pay, but it will be impossible. So we are asking Europeans for the same mechanism as for gas and oil,” Sall told Le Journal du Dimanche in an interview.
Brussels has not imposed sanctions on the export of Russian grains or fertilizers to non-EU countries, but has excluded several Russian banks, including Sberbank, from the international payment mechanism SWIFT. However, EU rules leave some room for countries to make payments to Russia for other imports, such as gas.
Last month, Sall told a meeting of EU leaders that sanctions against Russia’s financial system and difficulties in finding insurers posed a threat to grain and fertilizer imports to Africa. After meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin earlier this month, he again suggested that Western sanctions are contributing to the food crisis.
That issue was also raised last week during a bilateral meeting in Paris between Sall and French President Emmanuel Macron. Macron then told Sall that disruptions have nothing to do with EU sanctions, according to an Elysée official.
Sall’s appeal comes as a Russian naval blockade in the Black Sea blocks more than 20 million tons of grain from the world’s food supply and the UN, Brussels and Washington are trying to open up the situation.
Sall said Senegal is not dependent on grain imports, but warned that fertilizer shortages will impact local production.
“The destabilization of Africa as a result of famine is just as important as the outcome of the war in Ukraine today,” the African leader warned.
The food crisis will be on the agenda when EU leaders meet in Brussels on Thursday and Friday. Heads of state and government will once again oppose Moscow’s propaganda, claiming that Russia is solely responsible for the current food crisis.