Date: Thursday, 27 July 2023
ST. PETERSBURG, Russia (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin told leaders and officials from most African countries Thursday that his nation is making every effort to avert a global food crisis despite concerns that its withdrawal from a deal allowing grain shipments from Ukraine will cause price spikes.
Putin spoke at the opening session of a two-day Russia-Africa summit attended by a sharply lower number of African heads of state and government compared with a previous summit in 2019. While discussing the halted Black Sea grain deal, he promised large no-cost shipments of grain to six African countries.
“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.
Russia intends to ship up to 50,000 tons of grain aid to Burkina Faso, Zimbabwe, Mali, Somalia, Eritrea and the Central African Republic in the next three to four months, Putin said.
Without directly referring to Putin's promise, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres took a swipe Thursday at donations of grain to developing nations, saying they cannot compensate for the global impact of Moscow’s cutoff of Ukrainian grain exports.
The U.N. chief said the United Nations is in contact with Turkey, Ukraine, Russia and other countries to try to reestablish the deal that saw Ukraine export over 32,000 tons of grain, allowing global food prices to drop significantly.
Guterres told reporters at U.N. headquarters in New York that taking millions of tons of Ukrainian grain out of the global market will lead to higher prices, and these increased prices “will be paid by everybody, everywhere, and namely by developing countries and by the vulnerable people in middle income and even developed countries.”
“So, it’s not with a handful of donations to some countries that we correct this dramatic impact that affects everybody, everywhere,” Guterres said.