| 20 April 2024, Saturday |

Lavrov Visits Cairo, Offers Reassurance over Russian Grain Supplies

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov offered reassurances over Russian grain supplies to Egypt during a visit to Cairo on Sunday.


“We reaffirmed the commitment of Russian grain exporters to meet all their commitments,” Lavrov said in a press conference with Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shoukry.


“We discussed specific parameters of cooperation in this area, agreed on further contacts between the relevant ministries, and we have a common understanding of the causes of the grain crisis.”


Egypt is one of the world’s top wheat importers and last year bought about 80% of those imports from Russia and Ukraine.


Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine disrupted shipments and sped up a rise in global commodity prices.


Since the start of the war, a blockade of Ukrainian ports by Russia’s Black Sea fleet has trapped tens of millions of tons of grain, worsening global supply chain bottlenecks.


Russia, Ukraine, Turkey and the United Nations signed a deal on Friday to restart Ukrainian wheat exports by sea, but a Russian strike on Odesa on Saturday put implementation of the agreement in doubt.


Russia has blamed the blockade on Ukrainian mines, though under Friday’s deal pilots would guide ships along safe channels. Lavrov said he hoped the United Nations would succeed in removing “illegitimate restrictions” on shipping.


“There are still 70 foreign vessels from 16 or 17 countries standing there as almost hostages, including, incidentally, one vessel blocked in Ukrainian ports because of the threat of mines, which is supposed to bring food to Egypt,” he said.


Russia has continued to supply Egypt with wheat since the war’s outbreak, selling to both the government and the private sector.


Lavrov is visiting Egypt at the start of a regional tour of African states.


His visit included talks with President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and representatives of the Arab League.


In an article posted on the Russian Foreign Ministry website, Lavrov rejected the West’s accusations that Russia is responsible for the global food crisis, as “another attempt to shift the blame to others.”


He said a second Russia-Africa summit will be held in mid-2023 as part of Moscow’s efforts to expand Russia’s clout in this part of the world. The first summit was held in 2019 the Black Sea resort of Sochi.

  • Asharq Al-Awsat