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23 Jul, 2023 23:22

Africa got almost nothing from Ukraine grain deal – Putin

Western businesses “shamelessly” profited from the arrangement, the Russian leader has said
Africa got almost nothing from Ukraine grain deal – Putin

President Vladimir Putin says there is no longer any use in continuing the Black Sea grain deal, as it failed to serve its original humanitarian purpose, in an article released ahead of the second Russia-Africa Summit and Russia-Africa Economic and Humanitarian Forum in St. Petersburg.

Russia initially agreed to the deal only because its purported goal was to ensure global food security and reduce the threat of hunger in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, Putin wrote in the article, which was penned for major African media outlets and shared by the Kremlin early Monday morning.

“This ‘deal,’ however, while it was publicly advertised by the West as a gesture of goodwill that benefited Africa, has in fact been shamelessly used solely for the enrichment of large US and European businesses that exported and resold grain from Ukraine,” the Russian leader wrote.

Putin said the poorest nations, such as Ethiopia, Sudan, and Somalia, as well as Yemen and Afghanistan, received less than 3% of the supplies, while over 70% of Ukrainian grain exports ended up in higher-income countries, including member states of the EU.

Not only were none of the promises to exempt Russian grain exports from sanctions fulfilled, the West even blocked Russia’s attempts to send fertilizers to the poorest countries free of charge. According to Putin, only two shipments were delivered – one of 20,000 tonnes to Malawi and one of 34,000 tonnes to Kenya, while more than 200,000 tonnes are “still unscrupulously held by the Europeans.”

“And this is a purely humanitarian initiative we are talking about, which should be exempt from any sanctions as such,” he added.

Even though Western sanctions “severely hamper” the supply of Russian food products to developing countries, complicating transport logistics, insurance and bank payments, in 2022 alone, Russia exported 11.5 million tonnes of grain to Africa, and almost 10 million tonnes more were delivered in the first half of 2023, according to Putin.

The Russian leader promised that Western pressure won’t stop Moscow from supplying 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, especially as we expect another record harvest this year,” Putin wrote.

The Black Sea initiative (under which Russia agreed to allow grain shipments to leave Ukraine for the developing world in exchange for sanctions relief) was signed in July 2022 through mediation by the UN and Türkiye. Moscow refused to renew it last week, complaining that the West had failed to keep its promises on reconnecting its banks to SWIFT, restarting a key ammonia pipeline, permitting imports of agricultural machinery and parts, and unblocking transportation insurance. In addition to the West failing to follow through on its end of the deal, Moscow claimed that Ukraine had used humanitarian corridors to funnel weapons into its Black Sea ports.