Moscow, Jul 27 (EFE).- Russia will send between 25,000 and 50,000 tons of grain to six African countries free of charge in the next four months, President Vladimir Putin said in opening remarks at the Russia Africa forum in St Petersburg Thursday.
The Russian president’s comments came after Moscow pulled out of the so-called Black Sea grain initiative last week, which facilitated the passage of Ukrainian grain exports to global food markets.
“In the coming months, we will be able to ensure free supplies of 25,000 to 50,000 tons of grain to Burkina Faso, Zimbabwe, Mali, Somalia, Central African Republic and Eritrea,” the Russian leader said in a speech to launch the second Russia–Africa Economic and Humanitarian Forum.
He added that Russia would also cover the transportation costs.
The Kremlin chief said that in the first six months of the year, Russia had already exported some 10 million tons of grain to the African continent, compared to the 2022 figure which stood at 11.5 million tons.
“We understand the importance of uninterrupted food supply for African countries. It is important for socio-economic development and for maintaining political stability” on the continent, Putin continued.
To safeguard food markets in Africa, he said, Russia would continue to “pay special attention to the supply of wheat, barley, corn and other grain crops to African allies.”
Putin said it was a shame that the Russian part of the agreement on grain exports across the Black Sea had not been fulfilled by the United Nations, prompting Russia’s exit from the deal, but assured those present that Moscow “can replace Ukrainian grain” in the form of free aid thanks to record harvests.
Comoros president and rotating chairman of the African Union (AU) Azali Assoumani told Putin that the war in Ukraine was having “negative consequences” across the whole world and Africa.
He warned that the world was currently on the verge of destruction before thanking Putin for Russian aid to African nations.
The Russia-Africa summit brings together some 50 African delegations.
This year, just 17 African heads of state or government have flown to St Petersburg, a vast drop from the 43 that attended the 2019 summit.
Moscow has blamed Western interference on the turnout with Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov saying there had been an “absolutely blatant, obnoxious interference by the US, France, and other countries” to “put pressure on the leadership of these (African) countries in order to prevent their active participation in the forum.”EFE