African leaders are urging Russian President Vladimir Putin to consider their peace plan for ending the Ukraine war and reinstate the deal on Ukrainian grain exports, which Russia recently cancelled. Although not directly criticizing Russia, these leaders are emphasizing the significant impact of the war on food prices and expressing their concerns.
During a summit in St. Petersburg, Congo Republic President Denis Sassou Nguesso emphasized the importance of the African peace initiative and urgently called for peace restoration in Europe. Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi urged Putin to revive the Black Sea grain deal, highlighting its significance in enabling Ukraine to export grain despite the ongoing conflict.
Putin, in response, attributed rising food prices to Western policy mistakes preceding the Ukraine war and explained that Russia withdrew from the Black Sea agreement due to its inability to deliver grain to the neediest countries and the West’s failure to uphold their side of the deal. However, since backing out of the agreement, Russia’s actions have raised concerns as they bombed Ukrainian ports and grain depots, leading to accusations of using food as a weapon of war and causing global grain prices to increase.
The St. Petersburg summit is an opportunity for Putin to strengthen Russia’s relations with Africa, with promises of increased trade and investment as a countermeasure to what he perceives as a dominant U.S.-led world order. During the summit, he offered free Russian grain to six participating countries in the upcoming months.
Putin acknowledged the African peace proposal regarding Ukraine and assured that it is being carefully studied, but previously, he had given a somewhat lukewarm response to the plan when presented by a group of African presidents. Russia has expressed openness to talks but insists that they consider the current realities on the ground, with significant territorial control in Ukraine.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has rejected any ceasefire that would leave Russia in control of Ukrainian land and provide an opportunity for their forces to regroup. The situation remains complex and challenging as efforts to find a peaceful resolution continue.