Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country will continue to export grain, including some free shipments, to Africa despite sanctions.

While discussing the halted Black Sea grain deal at the Russia-Africa Summit in St Petersburg, he promised large no-cost shipments of grain to six African countries.

“Our country will continue to support needy states and regions, in particular, with its humanitarian deliveries,” said Putin.

“We seek to actively participate in building a fairer system of the distribution of resources. We are taking maximum efforts to avert a global food crisis.”

He referred to the difficulties of maintaining the supply with what he called “illegal sanctions” which “seriously impede the supply of Russian food, complicate transportation, logistics, insurance and bank payments.”

Delegates from many African nations called for an effective deal on grain shipments.

Chairperson of the African Union and President of the Union of Comoros, Azali Assoumani, said: “An agreement [on grain supplies] must be possible to try to save thousands of people who are dependent on these imports.

“Africa’s economic food security will be most at risk, especially since the continent is already badly affected by food price shocks caused by the interruption of its supplies.

“We, therefore, urge the stakeholders to find common ground to allow the resumption of employment, to secure grain from Ukraine and Russia to our continent.”

The summit follows Russia’s withdrawal from a deal that allowed Black Sea exports, vital to many African countries, a move that drew a strong condemnation around the world and raised new threats to global food security.

Putin said that Russia made the decision to withdraw from the deal because “none of the terms of the deal, concerning the withdrawal of Russian exports of grain and fertilisers to world markets from sanctions, was fulfilled.”

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