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Russia claims to start ‘free’ grain supplies to African countries

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Russia has begun to supply grain free of charge to African countries, a foreign ministry official said on Tuesday.

“As part of ensuring food security on the African continent, which is really of great interest to our African partners, the implementation of free supplies of Russian grain to a number of countries on the continent has begun,” said Special representative of the Russian President for the Middle East and African countries, Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov as cited by state news agency TASS.

“Russian President Vladimir Putin named them: Burkina Faso, Zimbabwe, Mali, Somalia, Central African Republic, Eritrea and other African countries,” he added.

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In July, Russia withdrew from an agreement brokered by Turkey and the UN that had enabled Ukraine, a major global grain exporters, to transport grain from its Black Sea ports. Ukraine and the West accused Russia of causing hunger in Africa, where most nations relied on grain imports.

Mid-September, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that Ankara was working with Moscow on the supply of 1 million tons of Russian grain to African countries.

At the time, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov urged the European Commission to purchase Ukrainian grain that had been rejected by EU members and redirect it to African countries facing food shortages.

“Since the European Commission is wasting tens of billions of dollars on Ukraine… it can buy the grain that Ukraine wants to sell and EU countries don’t want [to buy] for reasons of competitiveness, and send it to Africa,” Lavrov said as cited by state news agency TASS.

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