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regular-article-logo Thursday, 30 May 2024

President Vladimir V. Putin pledges free grain for African nations over the next four months

Putin insisted in keynote speech that western hypocrisy rather than Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was to blame for disruptions in global food supply

Anton Troianovski, Declan Walsh New York Published 28.07.23, 06:21 AM
Vladimir Putin in St Petersburg on Thursday

Vladimir Putin in St Petersburg on Thursday

President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia pledged on Thursday to ship free grain to at least six African countries over the next four months, scrambling to shore up Moscow’s image on the continent in the wake of the Kremlin’s refusal to extend a deal that had protected Ukrainian grain exports that help feed millions of people around the world.

Putin, speaking at a summit for African countries in St Petersburg that drew far fewer African leaders than its 2019 iteration, insisted in a keynote speech that western hypocrisy rather than Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was to blame for disruptions in the global food supply.

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“Nothing happened of what was discussed and promised to us,” Putin said, repeating his assertion that the West had failed to fulfil its end of the grain deal and had done nothing to clear the way for Russian food and fertilizer exports.

He added that those casting Russia as an unreliable food supplier were “telling lies,” which he said had “been the practice of some western states for decades if not centuries”.

Russia’s exit from the grain deal last week drew a global outcry, putting Putin on the defensive amid his long-running effort to draw African countries to Russia’s side in its geopolitical conflict with the US. The pomp of the summit on Thursday in St Petersburg appeared intended to signal to African leaders that Russia was their true friend.

Putin said that Russia would deliver 25,000 to 50,000 tons of free grain each to Burkina Faso, the Central African Republic, Eritrea, Mali, Somalia and Zimbabwe.

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