Russian Ambassador to Kenya Dmitry Maksimychev has blamed sanctions imposed on Moscow by the West for the country’s inability to channel the necessary support to Kenya and other countries in Africa.
The ambassador indicated that there have been numerous requests from different African governments, Kenya included, for support from Russia, especially to do with food and fertilizers but argued Kremlin has been unable to deliver them because its efforts are being frustrated by the US and the European Union.
“We want to increase the export of food. But we are in a disadvantaged position because they (the West) are trying to hinder and erect obstacles in our exports. However, we are trying to find ways to supply grain. The most affected are the poorest countries,” noted Maksimychev during an interview with KBC Channel 1 TV.
“We have a problem because a huge amount of Russian fertilizers has been confiscated in the European ports just when they were getting ready to be exported to various countries. This has been done for political reasons.”
He said about 20,000 tonnes of fertilizer majorly destined for Africa have been impounded and that Russia currently doesn’t have access to it, making it difficult to honour requests from countries in need of them.
“If European Union decides to release it, then we are ready to provide it to African countries for free, as part of our humanitarian operation,” confirmed the Ambassador.
The envoy reiterated that President Vladimir Putin’s government is ready to offer aid to Africa in time of need, giving the example of the recent donation of 34,000 tonnes of fertilizers to Kenya through the World Food Programme by the Russian Federation.
“It was fully funded by Russia. The end product will be 100,000 tonnes that will reach farmers. The Kenyan farmers now have the possibility to use the fertilizer to increase the productivity of their crops,” said Maksimychev.
Black Sea Grain Deal
He also blames frustrations from the West for the collapse of the Black Sea Grain Deal that would have seen smooth shipment of food and grain stocks from Ukraine into world markets to bridge the global food supply gap and reduce pressure on high prices.
“The deal was initiated by Ukraine. It was a deal and every deal has parties. Its purpose was to facilitate the export of Ukrainian grain to the international market alleviating the shortage, and we agreed to that. But the other part of the deal was that the West and the Secretary General of the UN would facilitate the lifting of illegal sanctions against our exporters,” explained the Ambassador.
“We fulfilled our part of the deal, by allowing ships to move with grain from the ports of Ukraine, however, the other parts of the deal were not fulfilled because the West has not lifted the sanctions against us.”
Moscow’s top diplomat in Nairobi further reiterated Russia’s position that the agreed grain route was being used by the US and its allies to bolster Ukraine’s capabilities in the war against Russia.
“The second aspect is that Ukraine and the West were using the sea route to smuggle weapons into Ukraine from the West,” he adds.
Maksimychev insists that the accusation that Russia walked out of the deal therefore amounted to a false accusation and only aimed at painting Moscow in a bad light.
He said Russia means well for Africa and that the country has invested so much in the development of Africa, right from the continent’s struggle for independence.
“You will not find any bigger supporter of Africa’s self-reliance and sovereignty than Russia. We think that a vibrant, sovereign, free, independent, and prosperous Africa is a necessary precondition for global peace and development,” he said.
“We think it would be to everybody’s benefit if Africa reasserts itself as an independent force in the global arena,” added the diplomat citing this as the motivation behind the Russia-Africa summit that has so far been convened twice. “This is a platform for honest dialogue between Russia and Africa. We couldn’t do it if we didn’t believe in Africa.”
To support Kenya’s development aspirations, the ambassador pointed out that Russia is guided in its efforts to assist by the concept of sustainable development which fits perfectly into the bottom-up philosophy.
“We have been consistently trying to help Kenya develop as an independent country to build its state and develop its human capacity. We also pay a lot of attention to food security. Over many years we have been providing food assistance to Kenya in the form of donations,” noted Ambassador Maksimychev.
At the same time, Maksimychev said trade between Russia and Kenya is expanding and that at the moment Moscow has opened its market to a good number of Kenyan products, which is a boost to the country’s economy.
“We are witnessing positive trends. The size of our trade has been expanding over the last several years. There is hope that by the end of this year, we will reach a trade volume of USD 500 million, which is an achievement.”
“Until recently, we have been the second-largest buyer of Kenyan tea. We also buy horticultural produce like flowers, fruits, and vegetables. We are trying to expand trade between our two countries and there is room for improvement.”
On the issue of oil, the ambassador said Russia is willing to negotiate and enter into a deal with Kenya and any other country that has interests in its vast energy resources.