Putin’s grain offer not enough, need Ukraine ceasefire: African Union chair

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The chair of the African Union, Azali Assoumani, said on Friday that proposals by Russian President Vladimir Putin to provide grain to Africa were not sufficient, and that a ceasefire in Ukraine was needed.

In a closing address to a Russia-Africa summit in St Petersburg, he also said Putin had shown readiness to negotiate with Ukraine, and that “the other side” now needed to be persuaded.

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Putin had told the African leaders that Russia was ready to supply Africa with grain, some of it for free, after refusing last week to extend the Black Sea grain initiative, which had permitted Ukraine to export grain safely from its seaports despite the war.

That, and Russia’s subsequent bombing of Ukrainian grain export facilities and stores, has sent the global price of grain soaring.

“The President of Russia demonstrated that he is ready help us in the field of grain supply,” Assoumani said. “Yes, this is important, but it may not be quite enough. We need to achieve a ceasefire.”

“President Putin has shown us that he is ready to engage in dialogue and find a solution,” he added. “Now we need to convince the other side.”

Putin had told the African leaders that it was Kyiv that was refusing to negotiate with him under a decree it passed shortly after he claimed last September to have annexed four Ukrainian regions that Russia partly controls.

Russia has long said it is open to talks but that they must take account of these “new realities” on the ground.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has rejected the idea of a ceasefire now that would leave Russia in control of nearly a fifth of his country and give its forces time to regroup after 17 grinding months of war.

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Putin: Russia ready for negotiations with Ukraine, but Kyiv refuses

African leaders press Putin to renew Black Sea grain deal

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