The United States has moved to cushion Kenya days after Nairobi formally complained about Russia’s decision to pull out of the Black Sea grain deal.
Russia’s actions drew criticism from numerous African countries, which expressed their grievances regarding the blockade of wheat and corn from Ukraine and Russia.
In response to the situation, the US government announced that on Monday, July 24, its Treasury’s Undersecretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, Brian Nelson, will be visiting Kenya and Somalia. The purpose of this visit is to address the implications of the Russian directive and its impact on the region
While meeting Kenyan top leadership, the Undersecretary will highlight President Joe Biden’s efforts to facilitate Russian grain and fertiliser exports.
“He will highlight the exemptions in US sanctions that have always allowed the continued flow of food and agriculture transactions,” Nelson was quoted from various news outlets.
The visit by the US Undersecretary is timely as it was announced two days after India issued a ban on rice exports over fears that exporting the grain would lead to scarcity and high prices.
Notably, wheat and corn prices have increased significantly globally after Russia blocked ships from accessing the Black Sea.
Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary (PS) Korir Sing’Oei on Tuesday, July 18, called out Russia over the decision warning that it risked causing a food shortage in Kenya.
“The decision by Russia to exit the Black Sea Grain Initiative is a stab in the back at global food security prices and disproportionately impacts countries in the Horn of Africa already impacted by drought,” the PS lamented.
His sentiments were also echoed by the United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres who also expressed similar concerns over potential looming food shortage in poor countries.
“This Initiative has ensured the safe passage of over 32 million metric tons of food commodities from Ukrainian ports relieving hunger in some of the hardest-hit corners of the world,” he stated the impact of the deal.
Nelson in his tour will also hold meetings in Mogadishu, Somalia where he will meet top government officials to discuss the surge of attacks by al-Shabaab extremists.
The same conversation will also take place in Nairobi where the discussion will centre on tightening the noose on terrorism financiers with a view to combat extremist groups.
Additionally, Kenya and the US will discuss strengthening anti-money laundering frameworks.