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Ukraine's Foreign Minister Pledges Grain to Africa

FILE - Wheat grain is seen on the MV Brave Commander vessel from Yuzhny Port in Ukraine to the drought-stricken Horn of Africa as it docks at port of Djibouti in Djibouti August 30, 2022. (Hugh Rutherford/World Food Programme/Handout via REUTERS)

Ukraine's foreign minister promised on Monday that his country will do all it can to send more grain to Africa as he began his tour of the continent this week in Senegal.

Ukraine will be sending “boats full of seeds for Africa,” Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said after meeting with Senegal's president and foreign minister in Dakar.

"We will do our best until the last breath to continue exporting Ukrainian grain to Africa and the world for food security,” Kuleba said at a joint press briefing with his Senegalese counterpart, Aissata Tall Sall.

Senegal's President Macky Sall, who is the current chairman of the African Union, has urged both Russia and Ukraine to resume grain exports despite their ongoing battle.

Many African countries depend heavily on grain imports from Russia and Ukraine. Amid market shortages, Russia has sought to portray the West as the villain, blaming it for rising food prices.

Western leaders have accused the Kremlin of using food as a weapon.

African countries have stayed somewhat neutral on Ukraine: Some 25 African countries either voted to abstain or did not vote at all on the U.N. resolution that condemned the war in Ukraine earlier this year.

Senegal was among those abstaining and its president told the U.N. General Assembly last month that Africa “does not want to be the breeding ground of a new Cold War.”

Despite these positions, Ukraine's foreign minister said he wants to deepen his country's ties to Africa.

“I do not come to Africa against anyone,” Kuleba said Monday. “We must strengthen our cooperation. Our future depends on the relationships we build and what happens every day.”

The Ukrainian minister criticized Russia's statements.

“The Senegalese may be surprised if they listen to Russian propaganda. Russia wanted to make believe that (the war is because) Ukraine wants to be a member of NATO. Finland wants to be a member. And yet Russia did not attack it," he said.