Russian wheat aid arrives in impoverished Burkina FasoFri, 26 Jan 2024 18:56:11 GMT

Burkina Faso on Friday received 25,000 tonnes of free wheat promised by President Vladimir Putin as part of a package for six African nations, officials said.The grain had been pledged by Putin at a Russia-Africa summit in Saint Petersburg last July, with Mali, the Central African Republic, Eritrea, Somalia and Zambia making up the group.Burkina’s minister for solidarity and humanitarian action Nandy Some Diallo said the wheat showed Moscow’s “willingness to accompany the efforts of the authorities” in Ouagadougou who face a security crisis.”The government of Burkina Faso is delighted,” she told a ceremony to mark the delivery, adding that the grain was a “priceless gift” to help people internally displaced and the vulnerable.Russian ambassador Alexei Saltykov said the wheat was a “strong signal of the willingness of the (Russian) president to give dynamic impetus to cooperation with Burkina Faso, one of our strategic partners on the African continent”.Burkina’s foreign minister Karamoko Jean Marie Traore said the delivery should help push the country into “developing our own production capacity in order to halt once and for all dependence on food from abroad”.Russia reopened its embassy in Burkina Faso at the end of December following a gap of more than 30 years after the West African nation fell out with former colonial ruler France.Ouagadougou suffered two military coups in 2022 — both triggered in part by discontent at failures to stem a raging jihadist insurgency. Since coming to power in September 2022, the ruling junta has distanced itself from France and moved closer to Russia.Russia has become more isolated since invading Ukraine and has in recent months discussed greater military cooperation with Burkina Faso. In October, Ouagadougou signed a deal with Moscow for the construction of a nuclear power plant to increase energy supply to the Sahel nation where less than a quarter of the population has access to electricity.