Tue. Jul 16th, 2024

Egypt’s president has urged Vladimir Putin to renew the deal allowing Ukraine to export grain at a summit the Russian president is hosting.

Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said it was “essential” the deal be revived and called for an urgent solution to supply the poorest African countries.

Russia quit the deal last week and has since bombed Ukraine’s Black Sea ports.

Mr Putin says the West was not keeping its side of the bargain and has offered Russian grain to six African countries.

He said Russia would deliver the grain for free.

Egypt is a key buyer of grain via the Black Sea route and is particularly vulnerable to global food price shocks.

In response Mr Putin insisted that rising food prices were a consequence of Western policy mistakes that predated the war with Ukraine.

He also claimed the grain deal had not been getting grain to the poorest countries and said Russia was ready to provide its own grain to help avoid a “global food crisis”.

Russia could provide Burkina Faso, Zimbabwe, Mali, Somalia, Central African Republic and Eritrea with 25-50,000 tonnes of free grain each in the next three to four months, he said.

These six countries are all Russian allies apart from Somalia, which is suffering a severe humanitarian crisis.

Since withdrawing from the deal, Russia has repeatedly bombarded Ukrainian ports and depots, destroying thousands of tonnes of grain.

African leaders also used the second day of the summit to press Mr Putin to move ahead with a peace plan they are proposing to end the war resulting from Moscow’s full-scale invasion of its neighbour last year.

The plan calls for Russia and Ukraine’s sovereignty to be recognised, urgent peace talks and continued unhindered grain exports.

Congo Brazzaville President Denis Sassou Nguesso insisted it “mustn’t be underestimated”.

Mr Putin said Moscow was looking at the plans, though Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has ruled out any plan that leaves Russia in control of territory it has seized.

Russia’s invasion led to a blockade of the country’s Black Sea ports – trapping 20 million tonnes of grain which were meant for export.

This caused world food prices to soar, and threatened to create shortages in Middle Eastern and African countries which imported significant amounts of food from Ukraine.

The deal was struck in July 2022 between Russia and Ukraine – brokered by Turkey and the UN – allowing cargo ships to sail along a corridor in the Black Sea 310 nautical miles long and three nautical miles wide.

Ukraine is one of world’s biggest suppliers of crops such as sunflower oil, barley, maize and wheat.

By Joy

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