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Putin defies Western sanctions, commits to free grain supply to Africa

Putin-Russia-Africa-summit
  • Despite Western sanctions limiting Russian exports, President Putin commits to providing tens of thousands of tons of grain to African leaders. 
  • Russia aims to fulfill its role in global food security, offering both commercial and assistance-based grain shipments to countries like Burkina Faso, Zimbabwe, Mali, Somalia, the Central African Republic, and Eritrea. 
  • Putin's move comes after a failed Black Sea grain agreement with Ukraine and amid efforts to strengthen Russia's presence and influence in Africa.

In spite of how much Western sanctions are restricting Russian exports, Russian President Vladimir Putin stated on Thursday that he would still give tens of thousands of tons of grain to African leaders.

In order to fulfill what he called Moscow's crucial role in ensuring global food security, Putin said during a speech at a Russia-Africa conference in St. Petersburg that Russia was prepared to replace Ukrainian grain shipments to Africa on both a commercial and assistance basis.

"We will be ready to provide Burkina Faso, Zimbabwe, Mali, Somalia, Central African Republic, and Eritrea with 25-50,000 tonnes of free grain each in the next three to four months," the Russian president said, during the summit.

Putin left off certain African nations in need, such as Sudan and Chad, even though many of the ones he named already have strong relations with Moscow. The president of Zimbabwe expressed gratitude despite the fact that his nation already had enough food to cover its own needs.

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After deploying soldiers to Ukraine, Russia hosted its first summit in Africa in 2019 and has since intensified its efforts to gain business and influence on a continent where its Wagner mercenary organization is still operational despite an unsuccessful rebellion at home last month.

The Russian president reiterated his claim that a parallel agreement pledging to expedite Russian grain and fertilizer exports had been disregarded in response to criticism from the West of Moscow's decision to abandon the Black Sea grain arrangement, in which it had let Ukraine transit grain from its seaports despite the conflict.

The deal's failure and Russia's shelling of the Danube river ports, which Ukraine had been using as a detour for exports, have nonetheless caused a 10% increase in world wheat prices over the previous 10 days.

Over 70% of the grain exported by Ukraine under the agreement, according to Putin, went to nations with incomes above the average. He said that the poorest nations, including Sudan, had been "screwed over" and only received 3% of the cargoes, despite the fact that Ukrainian supply had helped to keep prices low worldwide.

According to Russia, 49 of Africa's 54 states, including 17 heads of state and four heads of government, sent officials to St. Petersburg. The Kremlin has attributed this, in part, to Western nations' attempts to discourage them from attending, to the fact that less than half of the world leaders who were invited to the 2019 summit actually showed up.

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