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Sall Speaks Soon to Putin on Food, Fertilizer

FILE: Senegal's President Macky Sall speaks on the second day of a European Union (EU) African Union (AU) summit at The European Council Building in Brussels, Belgium February 18, 2022

Senegalese President Macky Sall, the current African Union leader, will speak with President Vladimir Putin in the Russian city of Sochi on Friday, Dakar said. The visit is aimed at securing access to cereals and fertilizers blocked in the Black Sea by the current Russian-Ukraine conflict.

The war in Ukraine has sent the cost of fuel, grain and fertiliszrs skyrocketing around the globe, which is being acutely felt in African nations.

Both Ukraine and Russia are major suppliers of wheat and other cereals to Africa, while Russia is a key producer of fertilizer.

The UN said last month Africa faces an "unprecedented" crisis caused by the war, compounding difficulties facing the continent, from climate change to the coronavirus pandemic.

Earlier this week, Sall made an appeal to European Union leaders to help ease the crisis on key commodities.

Sall noted Russia's blockade of Odessa had harmed Ukrainian food exports, and he backed UN-led efforts to free the port.

He said the West's decision to expel Russian banks from the SWIFT financial messaging system could hurt food supplies to the continent.

"When the SWIFT system is disrupted, it means that even if the products exist, payment becomes complicated, if not impossible," Sall said.

"I would like to insist that this issue be examined as soon as possible by our competent ministers in order to find appropriate solutions," he added.

Russia has come under a barrage of sanctions from the West following the February 24 invasion of Ukraine, in a bid to punish Moscow for the military intervention which Russia insists is being done to disarm and "de-Nazify" Ukraine.