Russia's new strategy is to cut off Ukraine from grain markets — FT
Photo: EPA

After Russia's withdrawal from the grain agreement, the Kremlin is promoting a plan to supply grain to Africa and exclude Ukraine from the global market, the Financial Times writes with reference to sources.

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Russian dictator Vladimir Putin launched an initiative according to which Qatar will pay the Russian Federation for the delivery of Russian grain to Turkey, which will then distribute the harvest to "countries in need". Neither Qatar nor Turkey agreed with Putin's idea, the publication notes.

Russia first floated the idea of shipping its grain to Africa last year, sources say. According to the draft memorandum, which was reviewed by the Financial Times, Russia was to send up to 1 million tons of grain to Turkey "on preferential terms."

Under the proposal, Qatar would have to pay for the supply in full and the grain would be diverted to Turkey for onward shipment to Africa.

A Ukrainian diplomat involved in the grain talks said he saw "a tripartite memorandum of understanding between Turkey, Russia and Qatar," adding that they "made some efforts to stop it."

Other grain deal negotiators expect Russia could put forward its grain proposal at a summit with African leaders in St. Petersburg next week or during Putin's visit to Turkey in August.

Supporters of Ukraine believe that Putin's proposal is actually a way of exerting additional pressure on Kyiv in the case of grain exports from territories occupied by the Russian Federation.

"The last time they discussed this [idea], we had very strong suspicions that the grain would actually be stolen from Ukraine," said a senior EU official.

Russia's withdrawal from the grain deal has angered some governments in Africa, particularly those facing domestic pressure from rising food prices following Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine last year.

Kenya, which is a consumer of Russian grain and fertilizer, said this week that the Russian move was a "stab in the back" that "disproportionately affected countries" in its region.

On July 17, Russia announced its withdrawal from the Black Sea Grain Initiative, noting that it would not give guarantees of non-attack on civilian vessels after that date. On the same day, President Zelenskyy offered the UN and Turkey to continue the work of the corridor without Russia.

On July 19, the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation announced that starting from July 20, the aggressor state will consider the countries whose ships go to the ports of Ukraine to be "involved in the conflict".

The Ukrainian Ministry of Defense mirrored Russia with threats against ships in the Black Sea heading for ports in Russia and occupied Ukrainian territories.