Russian president Vladimir Putin has promised free grain supplies to six African countries following the collapse of the Black Sea Grain Initiative (BSGI), The Guardian reported.
Speaking on 27 July – the first day of a Russia-Africa summit held in St Petersburg – Putin claimed his country would be able to replace Ukrainian grain exports blocked by Moscow’s decision to withdraw from the BSGI which had allowed the export of grain and other products from Ukraine through the Black Sea, the report on the same date said.
“In the coming months, we will be ready 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 was quoted as telling African leaders attending the two-day summit.
Russia announced its withdrawal from the BSGI in July, with Putin claiming that western sanctions had restricted the sale of Russian agricultural products overseas. Brokered by the United Nations (UN) and Turkey, the deal had lasted about a year and had allowed around 33M tonnes of agricultural products to be safely transported out of Ukraine via the Black Sea.
British military leaders said food supplies in Africa would be affected for at least the next two years due to the Russia-Ukraine conflict, according to a 28 July report by the Evening Standard.
“As well as the direct disruption of supplies, Russia’s blockade of Ukraine is also causing grain prices to rise,” the UK Ministry of Defence was quoted as saying. “The impact of the war in Ukraine will almost certainly compound food insecurity across Africa for at least the next two years.”
Russia’s military has continued to target grain infrastructure in Ukrainian port cities, with Ukrainian officials saying that Moscow had hit 26 port facilities, five civilian vessels and 180,000 tonnes of grain in nine days of strikes since quitting the grain deal.
Russia has targeted the Danube inland ports of Reni and Izmail, and deputy prime minister for the restoration of Ukraine Oleksandr Kubrakov was also quoted as saying that Russia was restricting shipping in the area of the temporarily-occupied Crimea and near the territorial waters of Bulgaria.
Meanwhile, Ukraine and Croatia have agreed to the possibility of using Croatian ports on the Danube and Adriatic Sea for export of Ukrainian grain, Reuters reported. Ukraine Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said the country would now work with Croatia to find the most efficient routes to the ports.