Russia has not offered free grain to World Food Program, says official

Russia has not offered free grain to World Food Program, says official

'We have not been approached,' says WFP Deputy Executive Director Carl Skau

By Betul Yuruk

UNITED NATIONS (AA) – The UN World Food Program (WFP) said on Friday that Russia has not offered any free grain to the organization since Moscow's withdrawal from the Black Sea grain deal, which allowed Ukraine to export tens of millions of tons of grains over the past year.

“We have not been approached,” WFP Deputy Executive Director Carl Skau told reporters at the UN headquarters in New York.

Earlier on Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that his country will provide free grain to six African countries in the next three to four months.

The WFP has shipped more than 725,000 tons of grain to alleviate hunger in some of the world’s most impoverished regions, including Afghanistan, Horn of Africa, and Yemen, under the grain deal.

"Of course, the collapse of the Black Sea Initiative Deal is regrettable," Skau said.

“This is really about keeping the barn door open just when millions are knocking on it. The world needs unimpeded access to major food supplies...The hungry cannot wait for deliberations or diplomatic detours,” he added.

The WFP received 50% of its grain from Ukraine last year and 80% of its wheat in 2023.

“We have to look elsewhere, which potentially can be more costly,” he said.

According to the WFP, 345 million people are still acutely food insecure.

The agreement was signed in Istanbul in July 2022 by Russia, Ukraine, Türkiye, and the UN, creating a safe corridor through the Black Sea for exports from three Ukrainian ports since the war began in February of that year.

It helped rein in spiraling prices and ease a global food crisis by restoring the flow of wheat, sunflower oil, fertilizer, and other products from Ukraine – one of the world’s largest grain exporters.

Moscow refused to extend the agreement beyond July 17, saying parts related to its demands have “not been implemented so far,” referring to the removal of obstacles to its fertilizer exports, such as the inclusion of the state-owned Russian Agricultural Bank in the SWIFT international payment system.

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