Western businesses “shamelessly” profited off of the Black Sea grain initiative, the Russian leader said
President Vladimir Putin said there is no longer any use in continuing the Black Sea grain deal as it has failed to serve its original humanitarian purpose, in an article released ahead of the second Russia-Africa Summit and Russia-Africa Economic and Humanitarian Forum in St. Petersburg.
Russia initially agreed to the so-called “grain deal” only because its purported goal was to ensure global food security and reduce the threat of hunger in Africa, Asia and Latin America, Putin wrote in the article penned for major African media and shared by the Kremlin early Monday morning.
“This ‘deal,’ however, while it was publicly advertised by the West as a gesture of goodwill that benefited Africa, has in fact been shamelessly used solely for the enrichment of large US and European businesses that exported and resold grain from Ukraine,” the Russian leader wrote.
Putin said that the poorest nations such as Ethiopia, Sudan and Somalia, as well as Yemen and Afghanistan, received less than 3 percent of the supplies, while over 70 percent of Ukrainian grain exports ended up in higher-income countries, including members of the European Union.
Not only none of the promises to exempt Russian grain exports from sanctions were fulfilled, but the West even blocked Russia’s attempts to send fertilizers to the poorest countries free of charge. According to Putin, only two shipments were delivered – one of 20,000 tonnes to Malawi and one of 34,000 tonnes to Kenya, while more that 200,000 tonnes are “still unscrupulously held by the Europeans.”
“And this is a purely humanitarian initiative we are talking about, which should be exempt from any sanctions as such,” he added.
Even though Western sanctions “severely hamper” the supply of Russian food products to developing countries, complicating transport logistics, insurance and bank payments, in 2022 alone, Russia exported 11.5 million tonnes of grain to Africa, and almost 10 million tonnes more were delivered in the first half of 2023, according to Putin.
Putin promised that Western pressure won’t stop Moscow from supplying grain, food products, fertilizers and other goods to Africa.
“I want to give assurances that our country is capable of replacing the Ukrainian grain both on a commercial and free-of-charge basis, especially as we expect another record harvest this year,” Putin wrote.
The Black Sea initiative – under which Russia agreed to allow grain shipments to leave Ukraine for the developing world in exchange for the sanctions relief – had been signed in July 2022 through mediation by the UN and Türkiye. Moscow refused to renew it last week, complaining that the West had failed to keep its promises on reconnecting its banks to SWIFT, restarting key ammonia pipeline, permitting imports of agricultural machinery and parts, and unblocking transportation insurance. In addition to the West failing to follow through on its end of the deal, Moscow claimed that Ukraine had used humanitarian corridors to funnel weapons into its Black Sea ports.