Russian officials say President Vladimir Putin is open to providing grain to developing African nations to ensure food security, despite an end to a Black Sea Initiative that ensured exports would continue amid the Russia-Ukraine conflict.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov told reporters Saturday that Moscow will find a way to deliver grain and fertilizer to nations in need. “And we will not be hindered by the intrigues of our opponents,” he added, referring to condemnation from the United Nations, European Union and elsewhere in the West over the Black Sea failure.
“There is nothing here that we have not warned both the UN, its leadership and our foreign partners about for many months,” Ryabkov, referring to the deal suspension, told TASS.
The ministry also made clear that most of the Ukrainian grain shipped under the Black Sea agreement went to Europe, not Africa and the developing world. Just 922,000 tons, or 2.8% of the total grain exported in a year, went to “countries in need.”
Those nations included Ethiopia, Sudan and Somalia, the ministry said. And Malawi and Kenya were the only ones to receive Russian fertilizers shipped from European ports because of sanctions and blockages initiated by the West.
“If Western capitals really value the Black Sea initiative, then let them seriously think about fulfilling their obligations and the real withdrawal of Russian fertilizers and food from sanctions,” the Russian ministry said in a statement.
Ukrainian grain production isn’t entirely limited by initiative disputes, like that over the damaged Togliatti-Odessa ammonia pipeline. The Agricultural Market Information System, formed by global agencies including the World Bank and World Food Program, warns of additional disruptions because of the destroyed Kakhovka dam in southeastern Ukraine. Impacts are expected to extend beyond 2023.
Image: UNOCHA file