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Ethiopia: Lavrov dismisses 'so-called food crisis' in Africa

July 27, 2022

Lavrov has sought to offer Moscow's support to Addis Ababa amid Western pressure. He has also again blamed Western sanctions for an ongoing food crisis, which has heavily impacted Africa.

Sergey Lavrov trifft  Demeke Mekonnen Hassen  in Addis Ababa
Lavrov visited Egypt, Republic of Congo and Uganda before heading to EthiopiaImage: Russian Foreign Ministry Press Service/AP/picture alliance

Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov was in Ethiopia on Wednesday for the last day of his four-nation tour of Africa as Russia attempts to shore up support amid its invasion of Ukraine.

Lavrov expressed support for the increasingly internationally side-lined government in Addis Ababa while also once again rejecting any Russian responsibility for the ongoing food crisis that has seen the prices of key goods skyrocket.

He dismissed the idea that the "so-called food crisis" was caused by the Russian blockade of Ukrainian ports on the Black Sea, saying instead, "The situation in Ukraine did additionally negatively affect food markets, but not due to the Russian special operation, rather due to the absolutely inadequate reaction of the West, which announced sanctions."

What was Russia's message to Ethiopia?

Lavrov attempted to position Russia's stance on Ethiopia's ongoing conflict in contrast with that of Western states.

He stated Moscow's support for attempts by the government in Addis Ababa to subdue opposition groups while painting criticism from the US and Europe over the government's handling of the conflict as meddling.

"We confirmed our firm support for those efforts which the government is making to stabilize the situation and launch an inclusive national dialogue to solve the key questions," Lavrov said during a press conference with his Ethiopian counterpart Demeke Mekonnen.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov (R) and Ethiopia's Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Demeke Mekonnen Hassen (L) drinking Ethiopian coffee
Lavrov said that Western sanctions were the reasons why Ukrainian grain exports were blockaded for so longImage: Russian Foreign Ministry Press Service/AP/picture alliance

He repeated claims previously made at other stops on the trip that Western powers have a colonial mindset.

Demeke said his country was grateful for "Russia's unwavering support in helping us in safeguarding Ethiopia's sovereignty."

Addis Ababa's fall from Western favor

Ethiopia had once been a strong ally of the West, with Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed even winning the Nobel Peace Prize shortly before the outbreak of the conflict in November 2020.

The war began after the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) rose up in the Tigray-dominated north of the country.

The fighting has killed thousands and forced millions more to flee their homes.

The UN has accused both the TPLF and Ethiopian government soldiers of committing violations that may amount to war crimes.

Russia's offer to overlook such issues comes as it seeks to break its international isolation. Many African countries maintained neutrality over the invasion of Ukraine, but have also been hard hit by the ongoing food crisis.

Lavrov has been attempting to assure African leaders he met with on his trip over fears of further price hikes for essential goods.

He also claimed that the majority of countries do not support the sanctions against Russia, saying it is "basically evident from the fact that, except for two or three countries, no one in Africa, Asia or Latin America," has joined them.

Lavrov: 'We will help the Ukrainian people get rid of the regime'

ab/wd (AP, Reuters)