At the Russia-Africa summit Putin pledges free grain for the poorest African countries as Kremlin reveals Western pressure on continent
Russia will be ready to ship free grain to some of Africa’s poorest nations within the next three to four months, President Vladimir Putin has announced. He made the pledge during a speech at the Russia-Africa summit being held in St. Petersburg, Thursday.
Burkina Faso, Zimbabwe, Mali, Somalia, the Central African Republic, and Eritrea will each receive 25,000 to 50,000 tons of grain, the Russian leader said. Moscow will also cover the delivery costs of the shipments, he added.
Vice President of Nigeria Kassim Shettima
The announcement comes a week after Moscow refused to renew the Black Sea Grain Initiative, an arrangement which had allowed Ukraine to export grain by commercial ships. The UN- and Türkiye-mediated deal had been touted as a humanitarian effort to protect the world’s poorest nations from surging food prices.
“They created obstacles even to our plans to donate fertilizers to the poorest nations that needed them,” the Russian leader said. “Out of 262,000 tons of the fertilizers blocked in European ports, we’ve managed to ship only two lots: merely 20,000 tons to Malawi and 34,000 tons to Kenya. The rest remains in the hands of the Europeans.”
President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa
Putin stressed Russia’s role as a major exporter of wheat, a key product for food security. The nation’s share of the market is 20%, compared to less than 5% for Ukraine, he noted.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Tuesday that Western powers, including the US and France, have tried to bully other countries into skipping the Russia-Africa economic summit in St. Petersburg.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi arrives at Pulkovo airport ahead of the second Russia-Africa summit, Saint Petersburg, Russia, July 26, 2023. (AFP)
“We are well aware that nearly all African countries were subjected to unprecedented pressure from the US,” Peskov stated.
He added that the West had been using diplomatic channels to “prevent African countries from participating in the summit.” “The policies of the US, France, and other [Western] states must be condemned,” Peskov argued.
“Essentially, they are denying the African countries their sovereign rights to choose their own partners, expand cooperation in different fields, and discuss relevant issues.”
The White House has previously denied meddling in the foreign policy of African nations. More than 40 African countries, 17 of which will be represented by their heads of state are in attendance.
The three biggest economies in Africa are represented at presidential level. The President of Egypt, the South African president and the Vice President of Nigeria are in St Petersburg for the summit where a wide range of bilateral issues will be discussed.