“Russia Using Boko Haram's Tactics”: Why Nigeria, Others Should Stand with Ukraine, Envoy Explains

“Russia Using Boko Haram's Tactics”: Why Nigeria, Others Should Stand with Ukraine, Envoy Explains

  • The Russian war against Ukraine enters its third year, with no sign of cessation from Vladimir Putin's regime, causing widespread devastation and posing significant threats to global food and energy security
  • Ukraine, a key food supplier, has lost a substantial portion of its grain storage capacity due to the war, jeopardising its ability to supply essential agricultural products like wheat, corn, and sunflower oil to the world market
  • In an exclusive interview with Legit.ng, Ukraine's ambassador to Nigeria, Kholostenko Ivan, highlighted Kyiv's efforts in ensuring food security and called for support from Nigeria and other countries

Legit.ng journalist Nurudeen Lawal has 8 years of experience covering Presidential Administrations.

FCT, Abuja - The Russian war against Ukraine has entered its third year, with Vladimir Putin showing no readiness to stop the illegal invasion.

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Beyond causing devastating destruction in Ukraine, the war is also causing significant hardship at the global level, especially in terms of food and energy security.

Russian War Against Ukraine/Putin/Tinubu/Zelenskyy
Ukraine's ambassador to Nigeria, Kholostenko Ivan, said Russia is behaving like Boko Haram. Photo credits: Krisztian Bocsi/Bloomberg, The Asahi Shimbun
Source: Getty Images

It is taking a toll on millions of Africans due to the astronomical rise in the cost of food and energy.

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Ukraine is one of the key food suppliers to the world, but the Russian war is threatening Kyiv’s ability to continue to perform the role effectively.

Recent reports indicate that Ukraine has lost nearly 15% of its grain storage capacity amid its invasion by Russia.

Ukraine has also reportedly lost around 8.5 million of its 58-million-tonne storage capacity due to the Russian invasion, threatening its future ability to get crucial supplies of wheat, corn and sunflower oil to the world market.

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In a 2022 exclusive interview with Legit.ng, Andriy Yermak, head of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's office, said Russia was creating an artificial food crisis by limiting its own exports and blocking Ukraine from exporting its grain and wheat.

Russia using food crisis as weapon of manipulation

Speaking exclusively with Legit.ng, the Ukrainian Ambassador to Nigeria, Kholostenko Ivan, said Moscow was using the food crisis as a weapon of manipulation and blackmail.

He described the Russian invasion as an act of terrorism, adding that the tactics being deployed by Moscow were similar to that of Boko Haram, the terrorist group in northern Nigeria.

“This is not the first time an aggressor has used hunger as a weapon of manipulation and blackmail. This is an act of terrorism, which in its essence is quite similar to the intimidation tactics of Boko Haram,” Mr Ivan told Legit.ng recently.

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Food security: How Russia is frustrating Ukraine’s efforts

In July 2022, the United Nations and Türkiye brokered a deal tagged the Black Sea Grain Initiative between Russia and Ukraine.

The deal, which the UN described as a “beacon of hope, " allowed commercial food and fertiliser exports from three key Ukrainian ports in the Black Sea: Odesa, Chornomorsk, Yuzhny/Pivdennyi.

In simple language, the deal ensured that Russia did not block Ukrainian grain from reaching African and other global markets.

In a joint op-ed in August 2023, the embassies of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States, and the European Union in Cairo, Egypt, said the Black Sea Grain Initiative “helped push prices back down and ensure greater availability of grain.”

Also, Ukraine’s ambassador to Nigeria, Mr Ivan, said the initiative and Grain From Ukraine (a humanitarian food programme by Ukraine) are extremely vital instruments that gave Kyiv “an opportunity to provide help to our Nigerian partners.”

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“When Russia started war on Ukraine, it blocked seaports. Yet Black Sea Grain Initiative allowed us to ship Ukrainian grains to the countries, which are most in need of it,” Mr Ivan said.
“The results of the Grain Initiative were spectacular: almost 33 million metric tons of agricultural products were exported to 45 countries.”

He added that when the initiative was introduced, grain prices around the world immediately dropped.

“In June 2023, they were 23.4% lower than in March 2022, when Russia started the blockade of our Seaports,” Mr Ivan noted.

The envoy added that Nigeria was one of the countries that benefitted from the Grain deal, receiving 25,000 tonnes of grains “as a gift from the Ukrainian Government.”

However, Russia pulled out of the deal in July 2023 and resumed its missile attacks on Ukraine's Black Sea coast.

Ivan said Russia was trying to sabotage grain supply not only by pulling out of the Grain Initiative but also by bombing Ukrainian grain storage.

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Shortly after Moscow pulled out of the deal in 2023, BBC reported that it launched missile attacks on Ukraine's Black Sea coast, which destroyed 60,000 tonnes of grain and damaged storage infrastructure.

“This violates not only Ukrainian interests but also the interests of other countries all around the globe,” Ambassador Ivan told Legit.ng.
“African countries that rely on Ukrainian grain will either receive it much later than necessary or will not receive it at all. This puts the population of these countries at risk.
“This will especially affect Nigeria, keeping in mind that President Bola Tinubu has declared an immediate State of Emergency on food insecurity to tackle the increase in food prices,” he added.

Ukraine remains guarantor of global food security

Despite Russia’s aggression, Ambassador Ivan said Ukraine will continue to ensure global food security through its grain supplies.

“Ukraine has always been and still remains the guarantor of the global food security. Throughout our history, Ukraine faced the tragedy of Holodomor, a famine, created by Soviet leadership to destroy the population of Ukraine.

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“That is why we know the price of being unable to feed our children. And that is why Ukraine undertook obligations of the global food security guarantor. We are trying to prevent famine anywhere in the world. This especially concerns our partners in Africa, where food shortage is still a challenge to be solved,” he said.

Ivan speaks on Ukraine’s partnership with Nigeria

In spite of the challenges, Ivan reiterated that Ukraine would remain committed to its obligations.

He also explained that the Black Sea Grain Initiative consisted of two deals: one signed by the UN, Türkiye, and Russia, and the other signed by the UN, Türkiye, and Ukraine.

According to the envoy, Russia has broken only its part of the deal with the UN and Türkiye, while Ukraine’s deal with the UN and Türkiye remains in place.

Calling for more support, Ivan said Kyiv is working with international partners to develop new ways of transporting grain.

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“Moreover, following the destruction of our grain terminals in ports by Russia, Ukraine has signed a Memorandum of Understanding to build a grain terminal in the Lekki Deep Sea Port in Lagos.
“But we need the support. We call on our partners in Nigeria, Nigerian officials and publicity to stand with Ukraine. We urge everyone to express their attitude out loud – in media, social networks, and during UN sessions. Together we will overcome any challenge and provide a stable future to our descendants,” Mr Ivan concluded.

Read more about Russia's invasion of Ukraine

Russia's stealing our grain, Ukraine says

Earlier, Legit.ng reported that Ukraine’s foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, urged Nigeria and African countries to be careful about buying grains from Russia.

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According to Kuleba, most of the grains sold by Russia are Ukrainian grain, which he said were stolen from occupied territories in Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson, and Zaporizhzhia regions.

He made this plea during an online briefing to African journalists attended by Legit.ng.

Source: Legit.ng

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