African Union chief urges EU to ease food payments to Russia – POLITICO

Senegalese President Macky Sall, who currently chairs the African Union, on Sunday called on Brussels to give African countries some leeway to pay for grain and fertilizers imported from Russia despite EU sanctions excluding Russian banks from payment systems. international payments.

“We want to pay, but it becomes impossible. So we ask the Europeans for the same mechanism as for gas and oil,” Sall told Journal du Dimanche in an interview.

Brussels did not impose sanctions on the export of Russian cereals or fertilizers to non-EU countries, but excluded several Russian banks, including Sberbank, from the SWIFT international payment mechanism. EU rules, however, leave some leeway 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 threatened grain and fertilizer imports to Africa. After meeting Russian President Vladimir Putin earlier this month, he again suggested that Western sanctions are contributing to the food crisis.

This issue was also discussed during a bilateral meeting in Paris between Sall and French President Emmanuel Macron last week. Macron then told Sall that the disruptions had nothing to do with EU sanctions, according to an Elysee official.

Sall’s call comes as a Russian naval blockade on the Black Sea is withholding more than 20 million tonnes of grain from the world’s food supply and the UN, Brussels and Washington are trying to unblock the situation.

Sall said Senegal does not depend on grain imports, but warned that fertilizer shortages will impact local production.

“The destabilization of Africa due to famine is as important as the outcome of the war in Ukraine today,” warned the African leader.

The food crisis will be on the agenda when EU leaders meet Thursday and Friday in Brussels. Heads of state and government are preparing to push back against Moscow’s propaganda again and claim that Russia alone is responsible for the current food crisis.

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