Russia set to soon send fertiliser to Nigeria for free, Lavrov says

Russia set to soon send fertiliser to Nigeria for free, Lavrov says
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov (left) shakes hands with President William Ruto after agreeing to expand bilateral trade / Presidency of Kenya (State House)
By bne IntelliNews May 31, 2023

Moscow will deliver a shipment of Russian fertilisers to Nigeria free of charge, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has revealed.

On a trip to Burundi, following a surpise visit to Kenya in his latest African charm offensive, Lavrov said that fertiliser seized by Western countries would be sent to Africa for free, once it had been released.

“Last September, [Russian President Vladimir] Putin announced that we were ready to deliver 300,000 tons of our fertilisers, illegally seized in EU ports, to African countries free of charge,” Lavrov told the press in Bujumbura.

“Fully in line with colonial practices and habits, the EU leadership blocked this initiative. It took us 6 months to get at least the first shipment of 20,000 tons to Malawi, and just recently another shipment of a similar amount of fertiliser was delivered to Kenya. The same shipment is scheduled to go to Nigeria soon.”

In recent months, Russia has been actively leveraging its abundant reserves of fertilisers and grains to enhance its diplomatic influence in Africa, at a time when the Western world sees Moscow as a pariah for its invasion of Ukraine.

Although Western countries have not imposed any sanctions on Russian food and fertiliser exports in response to the invasion of Ukraine last year, Russia claims its exports are hampered as it has become harder for traders to process payments, and obtain vessels and insurance.

Russia is also using its largest companies to further donate aid to the African continent. In 2022, Uralchem-Uralkali, a leading global fertiliser manufacturer, committed to donating 260,000 tonnes of fertiliser to the most vulnerable nations in Africa.

The donations arrive at a crucial juncture for numerous African nations that are grappling with severe fertiliser shortages. The agricultural systems have been under tremendous strain since 2020 due to skyrocketing prices, further aggravated by the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

Despite food and fertiliser being exempt from the international sanctions imposed on Russia, diplomatic tensions have caused significant delays in delivering shipments, resulting in thousands of tonnes being stranded in European ports.

Last July, the United Nations and Turkey brokered the Black Sea Grain Initiative between Moscow and Kyiv to help alleviate a global food crisis aggravated by the war in Ukraine, a leading global grain exporter.

Russia this month agreed to a two-month extension of the deal but has said the initiative will expire unless an agreement aimed at overcoming obstacles to Russian grain and fertiliser exports is fulfilled.

Among Moscow's demands is the resumption of the transit of from Russia of ammonia, an important part of nitrogen-based fertilisers, via Ukrainian territory to Pivdennyi port in Odesa, from where it is exported, and reconnection of the Russian Agricultural Bank (Rosselkhozbank) to the SWIFT international payment system.

A senior government source told Reuters earlier in May that Kyiv would consider allowing Russian ammonia to transit its territory for export if the Black Sea grain deal were expanded to include more Ukrainian ports and a wider range of commodities.