Coups and terrorism threaten Africa if Ukraine conflict doesn’t end soon, warns Rome
If the military conflict in Ukraine does not end soon, the resulting famine could trigger political instability in Africa, Italian Foreign Minister Luigi di Maio warned Saturday at a press conference. He also suggested “the proliferation of terrorist organizations and coupsmay be on the horizon.
“The World War for Bread is already underway and we must stop it,” he said.
Di Maio urged Russian President Vladimir Putin to “come to tableand reach a peace agreement as soon as possible, including a specific agreement on wheat.
“Let’s not forget that there are 30 million tonnes of grain blocked in Ukrainian ports by Russian warships. What we are doing is to ensure that Russia unblocks the export of grain from Ukrainian ports, because right now we are in danger of breaking out new wars in Africa.”
Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi previously asked Putin to allow grain exports from Russia and parts of Ukraine under Russian control. On Friday, the latter told Russian television that the shipments could be made via Belarus.
“If someone wants to solve the problem of exporting grain from Ukraine – please, the easiest way is through Belarus. Nobody is stopping him,” Putin explained. “But for that you have to lift the sanctions from Belarus.”
He also denied that Ukrainian wheat is blocked by Russian warships. Putin insisted that kyiv had extensively mined its own ports, creating grave danger for ships seeking access to Ukrainian ports.
Italy said last week it would help clear the facilities to create sea corridors to transport the wheat, in addition to the existing humanitarian sea corridor opened southwest of Ukrainian territorial waters by Moscow last month.
Meanwhile, kyiv ships its grain through the Romanian port of Constanta and overland to Europe – a far less efficient route, as far less can be transported at a time. With European countries able to pay more for the harvest, smaller quantities are likely to flow to North Africa, and the continent’s leaders have pleaded with Europe to lift sanctions on Russia, which makes it more difficult for them to buy food via SWIFT. system.
READ MORE: The African Union wants the lifting of Russian sanctions
Di Maio has called on Putin to sign a ceasefire agreement allowing Italy to evacuate civilians in eastern Ukraine, although it’s unclear if this is in addition to humanitarian corridors systems set up by Russia and the Donetsk People’s Republic.
He added that Italy would meet on Tuesday with other Mediterranean countries, as well as Germany, to “achieve the goal of releasing the quantities of wheat that must leave Ukraine at a historic moment when households cannot afford to increase the cost of energy, industry [cannot afford] the increase in the cost of materialsand the rest of the world cannot afford an increase in the price of wheat and bread.
Ukraine produces 15% of the corn and half of the sunflower oil on the world export market and nearly 10% of the world’s wheat exports, making it a major link in the global food chain.