Russian President Vladimir Putin Promises Free Grain to Six African Nations

Russian President Vladimir Putin Promises Free Grain to Six African Nations

After the collapse of Black Sea deal, Russian President Vladimir Putin has promised free grain to six African nations. In the next few months, Russia will be able to provide Burkina Faso, Zimbabwe, Mali, Somalia, the Central African Republic, and Eritrea with 25,000-50,000 tonnes of grain free of charge, Putin told the African leaders present at the second Russia-Africa summit in St Petersburg on July 27.

Speaking at the plenary session of the summit, the Russian president claimed that his country would be able to replace Ukrainian grain exports blocked by Moscow’s decision to abandon the UN-brokered arrangement that had allowed the export of grain and other products from Ukraine through the Black Sea to markets, many of them in Africa.

On July 17, Russia had announced to pull out of the grain deal. The Russian leader partly blamed the withdrawal on western sanctions that he said restricted the sale of Russian agricultural products abroad. The deal, brokered by Turkey, was in place for about a year and allowed billions of dollars worth of grain to safely transit out of Ukraine via the Black Sea.

Putin tried to win support among African leaders by claiming that the grain deal prioritised “well-fed European markets” and not African countries. While the West has acknowledged that grain export to the poorest developing countries has not returned at the desired rate, the deal has helped reduce global food prices by more than 23 percent. Wheat prices have been climbing on global markets since Russia withdrew from the deal.