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Russia offers reassurance over threatened African grain supplies

Grain exports   -  
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Grain Agreement

Russia has insisted it understands the concerns African nations have following Moscow's decision to leave the Ukrainian grain deal which ensures countries in need get deliveries.

But Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister, Sergei Vershinin, told journalists those countries would not lose out.

"We will be ready to reimburse the countries in most need with the approximate amount of grain that passed last year under the Black Sea Initiative," he said. "And we are ready to do it.

"These concerns from African countries are not only understandable and will be fully taken into account, because as far as grain supplies are concerned ... I just gave you a figure that was just over 900,000 tonnes.

"For the most needy countries, this volume, of course, is not so big. And, of course, contacts are being made. Efforts are being made so that they do not feel any negative consequences."

Moscow had for months complained that a related agreement on allowing the export of Russian food and fertilisers had not been honoured.

Russian President Vladimir Putin this week said Russia would consider returning to the deal if its demands were "fully" met, saying the agreement had "lost all meaning".  

The grain deal, brokered by the UN and Turkey, had enabled the export of more than 32 million tonnes of Ukrainian grain over the last year.

A summit on grain supplies is expected to be held in Russia's second city Saint Petersburg in late July.