Russia has announced plans to extend about 25,000 to 50,000 tons of grain to Burkina Faso, Zimbabwe, Mali, Somalia, Central African Republic and Eritrea.
The Russian President Vladimir Putin announced on Thursday during the ongoing Russia-Africa summit in St. Petersburg.
In a keynote address at the summit, President Putin promised to send grain to six African countries.
“In the coming months we will be able to ensure free supplies of 25,000 to 50,000 tons of grain to Burkina Faso, Zimbabwe, Mali, Somalia, Central African Republic and Eritrea,” He said, and promised large no-cost shipments of grain to six African countries.
Las week, Russia terminated a deal under which Ukrainian grain exports passed through the Black Sea to reach global markets, including Africa, easing pressure on food prices.
Throughout the year, the grain deal allowed around 33 million tons of grain to leave Ukrainian ports, helping to stabilize global food prices and avert shortages.
“Our country will continue supporting needy states and regions, in particular, with its humanitarian deliveries. We seek to actively participate in building a fairer system of distribution of resources. We are taking maximum efforts to avert a global food crisis,” Putin said.
“I have already said that our country can replace Ukrainian grain, both on a commercial basis and as grant aid to the neediest African countries, more so since we expect another record harvest this year,” he said.
The two-day summit is being scrutinized as a test of his support in Africa, where he retains support despite international isolation sparked by his military intervention in Ukraine last year.
The summit is seens as an opportunity to exchange views on key issues, according to Vsevolod Sviridov of the Center for African Studies at HSE University.
Since the covid-19 pandemic and the launch of the military offensive in Ukraine, “the framework in which Russia and Africa interact has seriously changed,” Sviridov said.
“It is necessary to find common ground, to explain to each other positions on topical issues, for example, the grain deal,” he added.
Since the start of the Ukraine offensive, Russia has sought to strengthen diplomatic and security ties with Africa.
Promising Russian food exports to Africa is key to Putin’s stated goal of using the summit in St. Petersburg to bolster ties with a continent of 1.3 billion people that is increasingly assertive on the global stage.
Africa’s 54 nations make up the largest voting bloc at the United Nations and have been more divided than any other region on General Assembly resolutions criticizing Russia’s actions in Ukraine.
The summit in St. Petersburg comes a month ahead of a summit of leaders of the BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) due to take place in Johannesburg.