US warning: African nations to be ‘punished’ if they trade in US-sanctioned commodities

US warning: African nations to be ‘punished’ if they trade in US-sanctioned commodities

African nations are free to buy grain from Russia but could face consequences if they trade in US-sanctioned commodities such as Russian oil, the US ambassador to the United Nations warned Thursday.

“Countries can buy Russian agricultural products, including fertilizer and wheat,” Linda Thomas-Greenfield said during her visit to Uganda’s capital city Kampala, after a meeting with the country’s President Yoweri Museveni.

Museveni is a US ally who has, however, not criticized Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and has expressed sympathy with Moscow.

She added that if a country decides to engage with Russia where there are sanctions, then they “stand the chance of having actions taken against them.”

Her trip comes a week after the Africa visit of the Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov who dismissed charges that his country’s invasion of Ukraine is solely responsible for a dangerous food crisis in countries ranging from South Sudan to Somalia. He blamed food shortages in the market on “the absolutely inadequate reaction of the West, which announced sanctions” following the conflict with Ukraine.

Ukraine and Russia are key global suppliers of wheat, barley, corn and sunflower oil, with fighting in the Black Sea region, known as the “breadbasket of the world,” pushing up food prices, threatening political stability in developing nations and leading countries to ban some food exports. Many African countries — including some with areas that are on the threshold of famine — depend heavily on grain imports from Russia and Ukraine.

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