Russia says understands 'concerns' of African countries over grain

AFP , Saturday 22 Jul 2023

Russia said Friday that it understood the concerns African nations may have after Moscow left the Ukrainian grain deal, promising to ensure deliveries to countries in need.

Ukraine grain deal
A pile of maize grains is seen on the pier at the Izmail Sea Port, Odesa region, on July 22, 2023. AFP


Those countries in need would receive the necessary assurances at a summit later this month, Russian deputy foreign minister Sergey Vershinin told journalists.

"We understand the concerns our African friends may have," said Vershinin. "But I want to say that these concerns are not only understandable but will be fully taken into account.

"The countries in need in the course of contacts with us and in the course of the upcoming Russia-Africa summit will naturally receive the necessary assurances regarding their needs for agricultural products -- first of all grain," he added.

The summit is expected to be held in Russia's second city Saint Petersburg in late July.

Vershinin's comments came days after Russia exited the landmark grain deal that allowed the safe passage of cargo ships carrying Ukrainian grain from Black Sea ports.

Moscow had for months complained that a related agreement on allowing the export of Russian food and fertilisers had not been honoured.

Russian President Vladimir Putin this week said that Russia would consider returning to the deal if its demands were "fully" met, saying the agreement had "lost all meaning".

Vershinin told reporters that there were currently "no contacts" to find an alternative to the grain deal.

The grain deal, brokered by the UN and Turkey, had enabled the export of more than 32 million tonnes of Ukrainian grain over the last year.

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