RUSSIA- Following its withdrawal from the UN-brokered Black Sea grain initiative, Russia boasts of its ability to replace exports of Ukrainian grain to Africa, according to a recent statement by President Vladimir Putin.

According to the statement published on the Kremlin’s website, Russia intends to continue its energetic efforts to provide supplies of grain, food products, fertilizers, and other goods to Africa. 

I want to give assurances that our country is capable of replacing the Ukrainian grain both on a commercial and free-of-charge basis,” Putin said in that statement.

The Russo-Ukrainian War caused significant upheavals in the global grain supply chains, creating uncertainties in countries that depend on Ukrainian grain suppliers for their consumption, most of them in Africa. 

The Black Sea grain deal, co-brokered by the United Nations and Turkey in July 2022, allowed for the passage of Ukrainian grain via the black sea routes, creating temporary relief for grain importers. 

However, after various extensions, Russia finally withdrew from the deal on claims that the terms of a parallel agreement meant to facilitate Russian exports remained unhonored. 

Since the expiry, Ukrainian exports over the black sea remain on hold as efforts to use those routes will be met by military aggression from Moscow.  

In an opinion piece for two of Kenya’s largest newspapers, Ambassador Dmitry Maksimychev blamed the United States and European Union for the deal’s collapse, asserting they had “used every trick” to keep Russian grain and fertilizer from the global markets.

Now, my dear Kenyan friends, you know the whole truth about who is weaponizing food,” he wrote.

Russia is especially bullish over its ability to replace Ukrainian grain exports to Africa as the country expects a bumper harvest this year and because its exports have been rising over the last few months. 

Moreover, having said it would consider cargo ships traveling to Ukraine through the Black Sea as potential military targets, Russia is forcing Ukraine to seek alternative routes to export its grain, which will be longer and significantly expensive.

The African Union has expressed “regret” over Moscow’s decision to end the grain export deal as Africa relies heavily on grain imports from Ukraine to sustain its growing demand, especially for wheat. 

During the last year alone, the grain deal enabled the export of more than 32 million tonnes of Ukrainian grain, with a significant percentage going to African nations.

Later this week Russia will host the second Russia-Africa Summit and Russia-Africa Economic and Humanitarian Forum, according to the Kremlin, aiming at strengthening the relationship between the grain producer and the African continent.

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