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Russia seeks Turkey’s help for sending food to Africa amid Ukraine war

Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan tried to work out on "reliable options" for the supply of Russian grain to African countries during their phone call on Wednesday (Images courtesy: MFA, Russia)

After terminating the United Nations-backed Black Sea Grain Initiative last month, Russia is looking at Turkey to facilitate unimpeded exports of its food and fertilizer to the world markets, in particular the starving countries of Africa and South Asia.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan tried to work out on “reliable options” for the supply of Russian grain to African countries during their phone call on Wednesday. The two leaders also agreed that Putin would visit Turkey soon.

The Kremlin stated that Putin outlined Russia’s principled position in connection with the termination of package agreements on the export of Ukrainian grain from the Black Sea ports and the unblocking of Russian food and fertilizer supplies.

He told Erdogan that the extension of the grain deal had “lost its meaning” in view of a “complete lack of progress” in the implementation of the Russian part of the agreement and Moscow would return to the deal as soon as all the obligations are fulfilled.

“It was emphasized that, taking into account the needs of the countries most in need of food, reliable options for the supply of Russian grain, including on a gratuitous basis, are being worked out. This issue was substantively discussed at the second Russia-Africa summit recently held in St. Petersburg . The mood for cooperation in this area with Turkey and other interested states was expressed,” Russian President’s office said in a statement.

Erdogan had been in talks with Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on the formation of secure corridors via the Black Sea for grain export long before the initiative between Russia, Ukraine and Turkey was signed in July 2022.

The grain deal allowed significant volumes of exports with the Ukrainian pilot vessels guiding the ships through the Black Sea, after which they headed out through the Bosphorus Strait, passing Istanbul, along an agreed corridor.

On Friday, besides stressing the need to “avoid steps that would escalate the Russian-Ukrainian war”, the Turkish President also spoke to Putin on the importance of the Black Sea initiative, which he considered as a “bridge of peace”.

“President Erdogan pointed out that stopping the grain withdrawal initiative across the Black Sea for a long time will not be in the interest of any party, and that the greatest harm will be inflicted on needy and low-income countries. He pointed out that grain prices, which fell by 23% during the validity period of the initiative, increased by 15% in the past two weeks,” Turkish Presidency stated after the phone conversation between the two leaders.

As reported by IndiaNarrative.com last week, Russia has promised to replace Ukrainian grain to the “most needy African countries” – both on a commercial basis, and in the form of gratuitous assistance.

Putin emphasised the Kremlin’s commitment to countries of the African continent during the Second Russia-Africa Summit held in Saint Petersburg on July 27.

russia africa grain

Citing another “record harvest” this year, the Russian President promised that Moscow will provide Burkina Faso, Zimbabwe, Mali, Somalia, the Central African Republic, Eritrea with 25,000-50,000 tonnes of grain free of charge, including ensuring its free delivery, in the next three to four months.

“We understand the importance of the uninterrupted supply of food to African countries – this is important for socio-economic development and for maintaining political stability. Therefore, we always pay and will continue to pay special attention to deliveries of wheat, barley, corn and other grain crops to our African friends, including as humanitarian aid through the UN Food Programme,” said Putin.

He also assured that his country is making every effort to prevent a global food crisis and striving to actively participate in the formation of “a more equitable system” for the distribution of resources.

“A paradoxical picture is emerging: on the one hand, the Western countries are obstructing the supply of our grain and fertilizers, and on the other hand, I will say frankly, they are hypocritically accusing us of the current crisis situation in the world food market. This approach was especially evident in the implementation of the so-called grain deal,” he said.

Listing stats, Putin alleged that of the total 32.8 million tonnes of cargo exported from Ukraine under the Black Sea Grain Initiative, more than 70 percent went to countries with high and upper middle income levels while the share of countries such as Ethiopia, Sudan, Somalia and a number of others accounted for less than three percent.

“In fact, nothing happened from what we discussed and what was promised to us. None of the terms of the deal, concerning the withdrawal from the sanctions of Russian exports of grain and fertilizers to world markets, was fulfilled. None. Obstacles were also raised for the gratuitous transfer of mineral fertilizers by us to the poorest countries in need,” he said.