Russian President Vladimir Putin pledged on Monday to provide African countries with grain for free if the agreement to transport grain through Black Sea ports is not extended in May, announcing that his country has canceled debts owed by African countries worth $ 20 billion.

During the Russian-African parliamentary conference, the Russian president said that his country insists on implementing all points of the grain deal, the most important of which is the arrival of grain to Africa.

He added that Africa received only small amounts of grain exports that took place within the agreement and that fully achieving the Russian conditions for renewing the agreement is in the interest of Africa, stressing his country's readiness to provide Africa with a full amount of grain free of charge, in the event that the grain deal is not extended.

In a speech in Moscow to African officials, Putin said: "If we ultimately decide not to extend this agreement within 60 days, we are ready to deliver free of charge from Russia all the quantities that have recently been sent to the neediest countries in Africa."

Trust in Africa

The Russian president announced that his country has canceled debts owed by African countries estimated at about 20 billion dollars, expressing confidence that Africa will become an active force in a new multipolar world order.

He pointed out that Russia "faithfully fulfills all its commitments, whether in the supply of food, fertilizers, fuel and other important products to the countries of the continent, and thus contributes to ensuring their food and energy security."

He repeated his criticism of European countries, accusing them of monopolizing grain leaving Ukrainian ports, explaining that only 3 million tons of grain were sent to Africa and 1.3 million to the poorest countries in Africa, out of 12 million tons allocated from Russia to the continent.

In his speech, the Russian president stressed that Moscow would "decide on its future participation" in the grain agreement, which was extended Saturday until May 18, provided that it is "guaranteed fair and full implementation."

Russian terms

Earlier on Monday, the Russian Foreign Ministry linked Moscow's continuation of the agreement to the "reconnection" of the Bank of Russia to the SWIFT international payment system, "lifting restrictions on insurance, reassuring" ships and "releasing" foreign assets and accounts of Russian companies associated with the production and transportation of food and fertilizers.

The Russian ministry warned that "without progress in meeting these requirements, our participation will be suspended" in the agreement. The ministry pointed out in its statement that "the agreement will be in force within the next two months within the current standards, without any change in the ports concerned."

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced last Saturday the extension of the agreement to export Ukrainian grain through Black Sea ports, after talks with the Russian and Ukrainian sides.

Erdogan said Turkey's talks with the Russian and Ukrainian sides had succeeded in extending the agreement on the Trans-Black Sea Grain Corridor.