Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said this in a speech via video link at a meeting of the Bureau of the Assembly of the African Union.
Dear Mr. Chairperson of the African Union,
Dear Mr. Chairperson of the African Union Commission,
Distinguished heads of state and government,
Ladies and Gentlemen!
Thank you for this opportunity to address you. Address you in a state of emergency, when we have a war. In an emergency for the whole world, when Africa is actually taken hostage. Hostage of those who started the war against our state.
Yes, this is war. Russia's war against Ukraine. Not a crisis, not a conflict, as it is still defined sometimes. No, this is a war! A brutal war, a war of invasion. Russian troops have come to our land and want to conquer our people.
This war may seem very distant to you and your countries. But catastrophically rising food prices have already brought it home to millions of African families. As well as to many families in Asia, Europe, Latin America. The unjust and provoked by the Russian war level of food prices is painfully felt on all continents. Unfortunately, this can become a particular problem for your countries.
We need to take into account various factors - population growth on the African continent, the ongoing economic recovery after the pandemic, the lack of domestic financial resources in many countries to buy food at much higher prices. Given the physical shortage in the global market, some countries on the African continent find it particularly difficult to maintain the necessary food supplies.
But why and when did this problem arise?
I emphasize that such a problem did not exist on February 23 this year. It is true that unusual inflationary processes have already taken place in different parts of the world. Various countries have already sent huge sums of money to support the economy in the crisis through COVID-19. However, there was nothing like a food shortage. The crisis began on February 24, when the Russian fleet blocked Ukrainian ports in the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov.
The sea route is the main one for the agrarian sector of our state. And Ukrainian agricultural exports are one of the foundations of the stability of the global food market. Ukraine is one of the main suppliers of wheat, sunflower oil and corn.
According to expert estimates, the lives of about four hundred million people in different countries of the world depend on the export of our food.
And if it was not for the Russian war against Ukraine, there simply would be no shortage in the food market. If it was not for the Russian war, our farmers and agricultural companies could have ensured record harvests this year. If it was not for the Russian war, people in Africa, people in Asia and anywhere else in the world would not suffer from the catastrophic rise in food prices. There simply would not be such a catastrophic rise in prices.
Ladies and Gentlemen!
This situation shows how connected everything is in the world. One war in Europe, namely Russia's attempt to seize our land, to turn Ukraine into a Russian colony, has led to a deterioration in access to food and a growing threat of famine everywhere.
Of course, we are defending ourselves, of course, we will defend our independence until we win this war. And, of course, we are already trying to build new supply logistics. Right now we have more than 25 million tons of grain in the elevators awaited by traditional consumers of Ukrainian products.
We are establishing exports by rail and through the ports of neighboring countries, so that last year's harvest and this year's harvest could reach consumers.
But much smaller volume can be supplied via new routes, and it takes much more time. This results in a much more expensive supply.
We are holding complex multilevel negotiations to unblock our Ukrainian ports. But you see that there is no progress yet. Because no real tool has yet been found to ensure that Russia does not attack them again.
That is why the food crisis in the world will continue as long as this colonizing war continues, Russia's war against our state, and as long as our ports are blocked.
Ukraine was also one of the main European producers of fertilizers. And now production is virtually stopped - again because of the war. Some manufacturers do not have the raw materials and even the ability to work - due to the threat of Russian missile strikes and other consequences of hostilities. Some companies are already in combat zones and were simply destroyed by Russian troops.
Have you heard about this from your Russian partners with whom you maintain contact? Did they tell you that? I'm sure they're telling you completely different things.
But, in fact, they need this crisis. They are deliberately exacerbating it. Because they are trying to use you and the suffering of the people to put pressure on the democracies that have imposed sanctions on Russia.
I emphasize that the sanctions policy is aimed only to stop Russia from trying to turn Ukraine into its slave.
Ladies and Gentlemen!
We all see that the existing architecture of global security and international organizations are not yet able to influence the aggressor state to end this war and restore international security.
Did the UN Security Council work? No. Moreover, your voice in the UN Security Council - the voice of Africa - has not been fully heard. But in today's globalized world, a world without Africa and Africa without ties with the world are impossible. And it is right that the African Union conducts a principled activity, defending the interests of all the inhabitants of your continent.
However, your voice should be strong enough in all international structures. And if they need to be reformed for that, including the UN Security Council, then we need to do so. That is why, for example, on April 5, in my address to the UN Security Council, I proposed to convene in Kyiv - of course, after this war and our victory - a global conference on UN reform and transformation.
I also launched a new policy of Ukraine towards Africa. It was during my term that the first Strategy for the Development of Ukraine's Relations with African States was approved. Dialogue with all countries of the continent will be intensified. The Special Representative of Ukraine for African Affairs will also start working in the near future.
I want us to fully understand one another and interact without intermediaries - for our common interests. And the fact that there are such interests is quite obvious after February 24. Because the stability of your countries depends on the stability in Ukraine and in our region.
Pursuant to my instruction, the first regional tour of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine to the states of Sub-Saharan Africa is being prepared. Of course, we also need to develop inter-parliamentary dialogue. To this end, I am initiating visits to African countries by representatives of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine.
I invite you to visit our country now to renew our bilateral ties. And I propose to start preparing, with our common willingness, a large political and economic conference "Ukraine - Africa".
In many countries of the African Union, Ukraine is well known economically and in the educational sphere. In fact, our relationship is very old. Our specialists have been building enterprises in your countries in Soviet times. Your students have studied at our universities and are studying now.
We have always contributed to the maintenance of peace on the African continent. Until February 24, more than 300 Ukrainian blue helmets performed tasks within six UN missions. And our national contingent, including the 18th Separate Helicopter Detachment, was an important part of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
And it is on this basis of the relationship that has existed for many, many years that we must build a new political history.
We can do it. We must free our people from the threats artificially created for us by any states that simply want to conquer us, use our resources and our land.
And our number one task now is to finally get rid of the threat of famine. In the XXI century, such a threat simply cannot exist - thanks to Ukraine, thanks to our agricultural sector. We cover any deficits, we produce everything so that there is enough food for each of your countries, all consumers with whom we work. If it wasn't for the Russian war, you would be in a completely different position now - completely safe. That is why, in order to avoid famine, the efforts of states like Russia to return to the aggressive policy of colonialism must end.
The time of empires is over! People have the right to just live, just live and have everything for life.
Thank you very much for this opportunity to address you!
Thank you very much for your attention!
Glory to Ukraine!
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