Russian president offers free grain to six African countries days after withdrawing from Ukraine grain export deal.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has offered free grain to six African countries, telling African leaders at a conference in St Petersburg that Moscow is making efforts to avert a global food crisis days after withdrawing from the Ukraine grain export deal.

“Our country will continue supporting needy states and regions, in particular with its humanitarian deliveries. We seek to actively participate in building a fairer system of distribution of resources. We are taking maximum efforts to avert a global food crisis,” Putin said addressing the conference attended by nearly 50 African leaders and officials.

“I have already said that our country can replace Ukrainian grain, both on a commercial basis and as grant aid to the neediest African countries, more so since we expect another record harvest this year,” he said.

Russia last week refused to extend the United Nations- and Turkey-brokered deal under which Ukrainian grain exports were shipped across the Black Sea to global markets, including Africa, easing pressure on food prices.

The two-day summit is being scrutinized as a test of his support in Africa, where Putin retains backing despite international isolation sparked by his invasion of Ukraine last year. The Kremlin has accused Western countries of trying to prevent African states from participating in the summit, the second of its kind.

Putin said Russia intends to ship up to 50,000 tonnes of grain aid to Burkina Faso, Zimbabwe, Mali, Somalia, Eritrea, and the Central African Republic in the next three to four months.