The Russian government will give 260,000 tons of fertilizer to several African countries, including 20,000 tons already donated to Malawi, a step that analysts see as part of Moscow’s effort to win diplomatic support for its war in Ukraine.
At a handover ceremony Monday (6 March) at Malawi’s capital, Lilongwe, Russian Ambassador to Malawi Nikolai Krasilnikov expressed the hope that African leaders would press for the abolition of international sanctions against his country when they attend the second Russia-Africa summit in St. Petersburg in late July.
The Russian company Uralchem-Uralkali, one of the world’s leading fertilizer producers, had manufactured the fertilizer and made the gift to Malawi, said Dmitry Shornikov, head of the firm’s southern Africa branch. Shornikov, who also attended the handover, told the audience that the fertilizer should help the southeastern African country achieve its goals of substantially boosting its agricultural production and helping families grow more healthy and nutritious food.
Although the donation amounts to mere 3% of Malawi’s annual national fertilizer requirement of 600,000 tons, a Malawian political analyst said Russia is likely trying to garner diplomatic support from various African nations for its war in Ukraine. Apart from being driven by Russia’s desire to win more African support at the United Nations, George Allan Phiri from the University of Livingstonia said the donation may also be designed to dissuade African nations from supporting Western sanctions placed on allies of President Vladimir Putin. “In my view, it is possible that Russia would want to mobilize some African countries to be on her side, and Malawi could be one, looking at how many African countries are voting against Russia,” Phiri said.
At the UN General Assembly in 2022, Malawi voted to censure Russia for its invasion of Ukraine, but more than 15 other African countries abstained from the vote.
This content was published in The North Africa Post on 11 March 2023