The European Union castigated Russia on Saturday for pulling out of the Black Sea grain deal, calling its offer of a million tons of grain to African countries a “parody of generosity”.
Charles Michel, president of the European Council, told the annual G20 summit in New Delhi that the 2022 grain accord had delivered to vulnerable countries more than 30 times the volume offered to Africa by Russia.
“And what cynicism … you did not accept this,” Michel said in comments directed at the Russian summit representative, Moscow’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
Russia quit the deal in July, a year after it was brokered by the United Nations and Turkey, complaining that its own food and fertiliser exports faced obstacles and insufficient Ukrainian grain was going to countries in need.
The Kremlin said on Saturday it was sticking to its conditions for a return to the deal.
“Not only have you decided to pull out of this agreement on the Black Sea, but at the same time you are attacking the port infrastructure,” Michel said.
“To add insult to injury, Russia is offering 1 million tons of grain to African countries in a parody of generosity,” he said, adding: “What cynicism and contempt for African countries”.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan held talks with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida at the sidelines of the G20 summit regarding efforts to revive the deal, two sources with knowledge of the matter said, without giving further details.
The news followed Erdogan’s remarks this week that it could be possible to revive the deal, urging Ukraine to soften its negotiating position and export more grain to Africa rather than Europe, although Ukraine opposes the idea of easing sanctions.
“Japan as a G7 (2023) presidency is ready to make a positive contribution in the discussion,” Hikariko Ono, press secretary at Japan’s foreign ministry, said on Saturday. “But I cannot reveal all the concrete efforts made by Prime Minister Kishida.”
The leaders declaration agreed by the G20 nations on Saturday called for ensuring ‘the immediate and unimpeded deliveries of grain…to meet the demand in developing and least developed countries, particularly those in Africa.’
“Japan is also very much interested in (the) resumption of the Black Sea grain initiative,” Ono said, adding that this would ensure food security worldwide.
The embassies of the two countries in New Delhi did not immediately respond to emailed requests for comment after the sources spoke on condition of anonymity on the summit sidelines.
There was no plan for the G7 grouping to announce anything new at the New Delhi summit, a Japanese official responsible for comments on the G20 and G7 blocs, the latter of which is being chaired by Japan this year, told Reuters.