RUSSIA- In fulfillment of President Vladimir Putin’s commitment made during the Russia-Africa Summit in July, Russia has initiated the delivery of free grain shipments totaling up to 200,000 tonnes to six African nations, according to a report by Reuters.
Agriculture Minister Dmitry Patrushev recently announced that vessels bound for Burkina Faso and Somalia have already departed from Russian ports, with additional shipments scheduled for Eritrea, Zimbabwe, Mali, and the Central African Republic in the near future.
The promise of free grain was made during a summit with African leaders, following Russia’s withdrawal from the Black Sea Grain Initiative.
This initiative, established in the aftermath of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, allowed for the export of grain.
However, Putin argued that the agreement was not effectively reaching the countries in most urgent need.
During the summit, President Putin expressed dissatisfaction with the Black Sea Grain Initiative, emphasizing that the previous year had seen Russia export approximately 60 million tonnes of grain.
The decision to withdraw from the initiative was driven by the belief that a more direct approach was necessary to meet the pressing food requirements of the designated African nations.
Since stepping away from the initiative, Russia has been involved in military actions in Ukraine, including airstrikes on Ukrainian ports and grain storage facilities.
Kyiv authorities reported substantial destruction of grain, with hundreds of thousands of tons reportedly lost.
In response to these developments, Ukraine established a new shipping corridor in August and has shipped about 3.2 million tonnes of grain through this channel. The move aimed to mitigate the impact of Russia’s actions on its grain exports.
The free grain shipments to Africa mark a significant shift in Russia’s agricultural diplomacy, signaling a departure from previous international agreements in favor of direct assistance to nations facing urgent food shortages.
The global community will closely monitor the success and impact of this initiative as geopolitical dynamics continue to evolve.
During the summit, President Putin said that Russia was expecting a bumper harvest this marketing year and should be able to meet the demand for grains in the African continent even after the black sea grain deal ended.
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.
“This means that Russia makes a significant contribution to global food security and acts as a reliable, responsible international supplier of agricultural products,” he stated.