Ukraine’s Top Diplomat In Liberia On Third Wartime Tour of Africa

Ukraine’s top diplomat visited Liberia on Wednesday on a third wartime tour of Africa as Russia prepares to host a summit with leaders from the continent this week after the demise of the Black Sea grain deal.

The Liberia trip by Dmytro Kuleba, the first such visit in the history of Ukrainian diplomacy, according to the foreign ministry, comes amid a concerted push by Kyiv to challenge Russian influence in Africa and the wider “Global South”.

Foreign Minister Kuleba will hold talks with Liberian leaders to discuss “ensuring the export of Ukrainian grain to Africa” as well as the vision for peace in Ukraine set out by President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, the ministry said.

“Against the backdrop of Russia’s food blackmail, Ukraine is maximizing its consolidation of support from African countries to continue exporting Ukrainian grain to the Black Sea,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Oleg Nikolenko said this week.

Russia, like Ukraine a major grain exporter, last week pulled out of the year-old grain deal that had allowed Ukraine to safely export grain via the Black Sea during the war, driving up food prices.

Russian air strikes have since hit grain infrastructure in the export region of Odesa, including along the Danube River, a vital alternative export corridor.

Kyiv says Moscow seeks to destroy its grain sector in order to set itself up as a unique grain supplier. It says Moscow is exerting pressure to try to win a resumption of Russian ammonia exports and the lifting of some sanctions and restrictions.

Kuleba travelled to Equatorial Guinea for two days earlier this week as part of the Africa tour where he said he had discussed food security.

Russia’s city of St Petersburg is set to host a Russia-Africa summit on Thursday and Friday and the Kremlin has said that 17 African heads of state will speak at the event.

Moscow has suggested that it can help Africa with both commercial and free shipments of Russian grain.

 

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