African Nations Face Tough Choice Over Stolen Grain

Should they decline to buy it from Russia, or use it to feed their people?
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 6, 2022 11:09 AM CDT
Stolen Ukraine Grain Puts African Nations in a Bind
Malian women sift wheat in a field near Segou, Mali, in this file photo.   (AP Photo/Jerome Delay, File)

Ukraine says Russia has been stealing its grain since the invasion began, and the allegation isn't in much dispute, reports the New York Times. Now the US State Department is warning that Russia is trying to sell this "stolen Ukrainian grain" to other nations. The newspaper frames it as a dilemma for African nations in particular: Anger the US and the West by buying the grain—essentially gaining from war crimes—or refuse cheap food when their people are starving. However, some see it as an easy choice.

"This is not a dilemma," says Hassan Khannenje of the HORN International Institute for Strategic Studies. "Africans don't care where they get their food from, and if someone is going to moralize about that, they are mistaken." Ukraine and Russia typically supply 40% of Africa's wheat annually. "The need for food is so severe that it's not something they need to debate," says Khannenje. Ukraine also accuses Turkey of buying its stolen grain, reports Reuters.

The issue speaks to the larger problem of the Russian invasion contributing to a global food shortage. Politico reports that negotiations are underway through the UN to try to convince Russia to lift its blockade in the Black Sea and allow Ukrainian ships to restart exports of grain it has managed to retain. However, the piece has a "don't hold your breath" message. Russia appears to be demanding that the West would have to lift sanctions on Moscow before any such agreement is put in place. (More Russia-Ukraine war stories.)

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