London, Monday 31 July 2023
With little to show for their efforts to restore a pact that kept grain flowing from Ukraine and to find a way to halt the crisis there, African leaders are leaving two days of negotiations with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Putin said that the termination of the grain agreement earlier this month by Russia resulted in a spike in grain prices that benefited Russian businesses in a press conference late on Saturday after the Russia-Africa meeting. He continued by saying that Moscow would distribute a portion of the funds to the "poorest nations."
Although dwarfed by the 725,000 tonnes of grain shipped by the U.N. World Food Programme to numerous hungry countries, both African and not, as part of the grain deal, that commitment, which provides no further details, comes after Putin's pledge to begin shipping 25,000 to 50,000 tonnes of grain for free to each of six African nations in the following three to four months. Burkina Faso, Zimbabwe, Mali, Somalia, Eritrea, and the Central African Republic will receive the free grain, according to Russian plans.
Less than 20 of the 54 heads of state or government from Africa attended the Russia meeting, compared to 43 at the prior summit in 2019, underscoring worries over Russia's invasion of Ukraine even as Moscow seeks additional allies on the continent of Africa, which is home to 1.3 billion people. Putin praised Africa as a rising global power, while the Kremlin cited "outrageous" Western pressure as the reason why several African nations chose not to participate.
Among the most emphatic about the necessity of restarting the grain agreement were the presidents of Egypt and South Africa.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa stated, "We would like to see the Black Sea initiative implemented and that the Black Sea should be open." "We are not here to solicit donations for the continent of Africa."
Additionally, Putin stated that Russia would examine the unpublicized peace proposal for Ukraine from African leaders. The Russian leader retorted, "But why do you urge us to hold off on firing? While we are being assaulted, we cannot stop firing.
Instead, it appears that a peace summit organised by the Ukraine and hosted by Saudi Arabia in August will be the next big step in peace efforts. It is not open to Russia.
Africa's nations make up the largest voting bloc at the UN and have disagreed on General Assembly resolutions condemning Russia's conduct in Ukraine more than any other continent. At the conference in St. Petersburg, delegations browsed weapons exhibitions as a reminder of Russia's status as the continent of Africa's top arms supplier.
Putin played down his absence from the BRICS economic conference in South Africa next month in his statements on Saturday, which came amid controversy surrounding an arrest warrant issued against him by the International Criminal Court. According to Putin, his presence there isn't "more important than my presence here, in Russia."
(Source: VOA // Edit by: The Decision Maker - International Relations editors)
(By Sergey Bobylev/TASS Host Photo Agency)