UPDATE - Putin says Russia will provide free grain to 6 African countries in next 3-4 months

UPDATE - Putin says Russia will provide free grain to 6 African countries in next 3-4 months

Burkina Faso, Zimbabwe, Mali, Somalia, Central African Republic, Eritrea will receive 25,000-50,000 tons of grain ‘free of charge,’ says Russian president

UPDATES WITH MORE QUOTES FROM RUSSIAN PRESIDENT

By Burc Eruygur

ISTANBUL (AA) - Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday announced that his country will provide free grain to six African countries in the next three to four months.

“We will be ready in the coming months, in the next three to four months, to provide Burkina Faso, Zimbabwe, Mali, Somalia, the Central African Republic, and Eritrea with 25,000-50,000 tons of grain free of charge. We will also provide free delivery of this product to consumers,” Putin said during his opening speech at the Russia-Africa Summit in St. Petersburg.

He said that a “paradoxical picture” is emerging, where Western countries are obstructing the supply of Russian grain and fertilizers, while also “hypocritically” accusing Moscow of the “current crisis situation in the world food market."

“This approach was especially evident in the implementation of the so-called grain deal, which was concluded with the participation of the UN Secretariat and was originally aimed at ensuring global food security, reducing the threat of hunger and helping the poorest countries, including in Africa,” Putin said.

He further said that a total of 32.8 million tons of cargo was exported from Ukraine as part of the Black Sea Grain Initiative, adding that more than 70% of grain exported went to high- and upper-middle-income countries.

He also said that the share of countries such as Ethiopia, Sudan, and Somalia accounted for less than 3% of the total, which he said amounted to less than 1 million tons of grain.

“None of the terms of the deal regarding 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 added.

He also said that Russia makes a significant contribution to global food security by having a 20% share in the global wheat market, adding that those claiming that this is not the case are "simply distorting the facts and telling lies."

"As a matter of fact, this has been the practice of some Western states for decades, if not centuries," he said.

- Russia interested in energy cooperation with Africa

Putin also said that his country is interested in developing energy cooperation with African countries.

"This cooperation is based on rich experience: over many years, Soviet and Russian specialists have designed and built large energy centers in Angola, Egypt, Ethiopia and other countries of the continent with a total capacity of 4.6 gigawatts, ... a quarter of Africa's hydropower capacity," he said.

He further said that Russian companies are implementing new mutually beneficial projects aimed at "meeting the growing needs of the African economies for fuel and generating capacity, to provide Africans with access to affordable and reliable, sustainable and environmentally friendly energy sources."

In this regard, Putin underlined that more than 30 energy projects with Russian participation in 16 different African countries are in varying degrees of development.

He also said that Africa can not only feed itself and ensure its own food security but can also become an exporter of various types of food in the future by applying appropriate agricultural technologies and organizing agricultural production.

"For its part, Russia is ready to share its expertise in the field of agricultural production with African countries and to assist in the introduction of the most advanced technologies," he said.

Highlighting the importance of deepening of industrial cooperation between Russia and Africa, he said that Russian industrial products, including automobiles and construction equipment, are "well-known on the continent and are in great demand."

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