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Russia-African relations

Putin tells African leaders: I’ll give you free grain despite ‘hypocritical West’

Putin tells African leaders: I’ll give you free grain despite ‘hypocritical West’
A handout photo made available by TASS Host Photo Agency shows Russia's President Vladimir Putin addressing the plenary session of the Second Summit Economic and Humanitarian Forum 'Russia-Africa' in St.Petersburg, Russia, 27 July 2023. The Second Summit Economic and Humanitarian Forum 'Russia-Africa' will take place from July 27 to 28 at the congress-exhibition center Expoforum in St.Petersburg. EPA-EFE/Alexander Ryumin / TASS Host Photo Agency/ HANDOUT HANDOUT EDITORIAL USE ONLY/NO SALES

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday told African leaders he would gift them tens of thousands of tons of grain within months despite Western sanctions, which he said made it harder for Moscow to export its grain and fertilisers.

Speaking at a summit in St Petersburg devoted to Russian-African ties, Putin said Russia was expecting a record grain harvest this year and was ready to replace Ukrainian grain exports to Africa on both a commercial and aid basis and honour what he said was Moscow’s critical role in global food security.

“We will be ready to provide Burkina Faso, Zimbabwe, Mali, Somalia, Central African Republic and Eritrea with 25-50,000 tons of free grain each in the next 3-4 months,” Putin told the summit, whose participants reacted with applause.

“We will also provide free delivery of these products to consumers”

The event, which is expected to see various agreements signed, follows Moscow’s first Russia-Africa summit in 2019 and is part of a concerted push for influence and business on a continent where mercenaries from Russia’s Wagner Group remain active despite an abortive mutiny at home last month.

Responding to Western criticism of Russia’s decision to quit the Black Sea grain deal last week, an arrangement which allowed Ukraine to safely export its grain, Putin reiterated that Moscow left because none of the promises it was given about facilitating its own grain and fertiliser exports had been met.

Some Western politicians have said Russia’s exit is irresponsible and will result in the suffering of millions of people in poor countries.

But Putin told the summit that over 70% of Ukrainian grain exported thanks to the now lapsed deal had gone to high-income or above-average income countries, including in the European Union, and that poor countries like Sudan had been “screwed over” and received less than 3% of the shipments.

He said Western sanctions, imposed over Russia’s war in Ukraine which it calls a “special military operation”, had even prevented Russia from supplying free fertilisers to poor nations.

“A paradoxical picture is emerging. On the one hand, Western countries are obstructing supplies of our grain and fertilisers (via sanctions), while on the other they hypocritically blame us for the current crisis situation on the world food market,” said Putin.

Russia says 49 of the continent’s 54 states are represented at the St Petersburg summit, including 17 by their heads of state and four by heads of government.

That is fewer than half the number of leaders who took part in the last such event in 2019 – a fall that the Kremlin has blamed in part on what it called “brazen” efforts by the United States, France and other countries to dissuade leaders from attending.

The summit programme includes an array of panel discussions on topics ranging from security, nuclear energy and artificial intelligence to education and sport.

Visiting dignitaries are also invited to visit Russia’s imperial palaces or watch a gala match between Russian and African “football legends”.

(Reporting by Reuters; Editing by Mark Trevelyan)

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  • Trenton Carr says:

    No such thing as free when it comes to warmonger dictators.

  • Anne van Vliet says:

    What a joke! Who does Putin think will be bringing in this ‘record harvest’? He’s sent all the young rural men who usually bring in the harvest to their deaths in Ukraine. Talk is cheap, especially when you’re addressing fawning acolytes.

  • William Stucke says:

    Any way to verify Putin’s figures about alleged grain shipment destinations?

  • Fanie Rajesh Ngabiso says:

    Go Ukraine. You can win.

  • Rod H MacLeod says:

    “We will also provide free delivery of these products to consumers”

  • Beyond Fedup says:

    The hideous little tinpot orc in chief desperately trying to remain relevant and strut his pathetic stuff on the world stage. Create a genocidal war on your peaceful neighbour by trying to wipe them off the face of this earth and in the process destroy the competition in providing the grain to help feed the world and then declare that the saviour has arrived. Only the most foolish would not see through this pathetic stage-managed and incestuous stunt! There is always a price to pay.

  • Fanie Rajesh Ngabiso says:

    Carrot and Shtick. (sic)

    Good one V man – the old heart through stomach play. 😀

  • Jennifer D says:

    “Free delivery to consumers” – how on earth can they believe that! Russian delivery vans will drive through the EC to deliver free grain to Africans. When will Africa stop begging and degrading its people. At what point do we stand up proud and say “we did it ourselves”!

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