Putin Vows Free Grain Aid to African Nations Amidst Tensions with the West

Moscow’s Pledge Comes After Refusing to Renew Black Sea Grain Initiative, Citing Commercial Concerns.

In a bid to address food insecurity, Russian President Vladimir Putin has declared Russia’s readiness to ship free grain to select African nations within the next three to four months. The announcement was made during Putin’s keynote address at the high-profile Russia-Africa summit convened in St. Petersburg.

Amidst the glitzy diplomatic event, Putin revealed that Burkina Faso, Zimbabwe, Mali, Somalia, the Central African Republic, and Eritrea have been earmarked to receive substantial grain aid. Each nation is expected to receive shipments ranging from 25,000 to 50,000 tons of grain, with the Kremlin covering all associated delivery costs.

This new development comes on the heels of a decision by Moscow to reject the renewal of the Black Sea Grain Initiative, a cooperative arrangement that facilitated Ukraine’s grain exports via commercial ships. Marketed as a humanitarian endeavor to shield the world’s most impoverished regions from surging food prices, the UN- and Türkiye-mediated deal has been a subject of debate for months.

The Kremlin, however, contends that the initiative deviated from its purported altruistic goals and morphed into a purely commercial enterprise. Putin reiterated that the UN’s failure to persuade Western nations to lift economic sanctions on Russian food and fertilizer exports, a crucial component of the agreement, had fundamentally undermined the initiative’s legitimacy.

“They created obstacles even to our plans to donate fertilizers to the poorest nations that needed them,” remarked the Russian leader. “Out of the staggering 262,000 tons of fertilizers blocked in European ports, we’ve managed to ship only two lots: a mere 20,000 tons to Malawi and 34,000 tons to Kenya. The rest languishes in the hands of the Europeans.”

Putin further lambasted Western leaders for their alleged hypocrisy in accusing Moscow of destabilizing the global food market while simultaneously undermining Russian exports through sanctions. Despite facing economic restrictions, Russia is purportedly intensifying its supplies to Africa, encompassing both commercial trade and humanitarian aid.