Russia: Turkey agrees in principle to handle 1 million tons of grain for Africa

(Reuters) – Russia said on Wednesday that Turkey had agreed in principle to handle 1 million metric tons of grain that Russia plans to send to Africa at a discounted price with financial support from Qatar.

Moscow proposed the arrangement after quitting a year-old deal in July that had permitted Ukraine to ship grain safely from its Black Sea ports in the hope of stemming a surge in global food prices exacerbated by Russia’s invasion.

Russia has sought to court African countries, some of which have been suffering food shortages, by offering them free or discounted grain – albeit far less than Ukraine had been exporting.

“All agreements in principle have been reached. We expect that in the near future we will enter into working contacts with all parties to work out all the technical aspects of the scheme for such deliveries,” Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko told reporters, according to the Russian news agency Interfax.

Turkey would handle onward export of the Russian grain but the details of its role were not clear.

Moscow says it quit the prior deal because the West has failed to remove obstacles to its own grain and fertiliser exports created by sanctions, but also complained that too little of the grain freed by the Black Sea deal was getting to the poorest countries.

Since pulling out of the deal, Russia has repeatedly attacked Ukrainian sea and river ports and grain stores, prompting Ukraine and the West to accuse it of using food as a weapon of war. Russia calls its campaign in Ukraine a “special military operation”.

(Reporting by Reuters; Writing by Kevin Liffey; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)