Russia's agriculture minister on Friday said Moscow has begun free shipments of grain totaling up to 200,000 tonnes to six African countries, as promised by President Vladimir Putin. "The first two ships have already left Russian ports of Somalia and Burkina Faso. We expect them to arrive in late November to early December," Dmitry Patrushev said in a statement.
Furthermore, he noted that additional shipments to Eritrea, Zimbabwe, Mali, and the Central African Republic would be dispatched shortly. Putin At a summit with African leaders in July, Putin pledged to provide complimentary grain to the six countries.
This commitment came shortly after Moscow terminated the Black Sea grain initiative, which had permitted Ukraine to export grain from its Black Sea ports amid the ongoing conflict with Russia.
The initiative, aimed at reducing global market prices, was abandoned by Putin, who contended that it was ineffective in delivering supplies to the countries facing the most urgent needs.
Last year, Putin reported that Russia exported approximately 60 million tonnes of grain. The commitments to provide free grain were referred to by U.N. chief Antonio Guterres as “a handful of donations.”
Following the withdrawal from the agreement, Russia has consistently targeted Ukrainian ports and grain storage facilities in airstrikes, destroying hundreds of thousands of tons of cereals, as reported by Kyiv.
Nevertheless, Ukraine announced on Friday that it successfully transported 4.4 million tonnes of cargo, including 3.2 million tonnes of grain, utilizing a new shipping corridor established in August.
Russia and Ukraine are two of the world's largest producers and exporters of agricultural goods.