MOSCOW, RUSSIA — Claiming Ukraine grain has been prioritized for European markets, Russia said on March 20 that it is prepared to give grain to Africa if its conditions for renewal of the Black Sea Grain Initiative are not met.
The initiative was extended on March 18 for 60 days. Russia said any additional extensions would hinge on removing Western sanctions.
The grain deal originally was brokered last July by the United Nations and Turkey in efforts to stop a global food crisis caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last February.
Ukraine, Turkey and the United Nations had wanted the initiative extended for 120 days.
At a Russia-Africa parliamentary conference in Moscow on March 20, Russian President Vladmir Putin said the Black Sea deal had prioritized “well-fed European markets” rather than African countries, Reuters reported.
He added that if the deal were not renewed, Russia could supply free grain to “especially needy African countries.”
Ukraine has exported 6.9 million tonnes of wheat, 20% of which was sent to African countries, according to Ukraine’s Ministry of Agrarian Policy and Food.
It said 2.67 million tonnes of wheat, or 43%, was transported to the poorest countries and those with incomes below the average.