Putin denies Russia’s role in looming global food crisis

  • Ukrainian production of maize and wheat has been blocked by the Russian military offensive.
  • President Vladimir Putin said they have not placed any restrictions on the export of food products.
  • Putin blamed the Western sanctions on Russia for creating conditions that made it difficult to deliver certain food products internationally.

President Vladimir Putin denied on Thursday that Russia bore any responsibility for an impending global food crisis stemming from the conflict in Ukraine.

Ukraine, a major exporter of grain, especially maize and wheat, has seen its production stalled by Moscow’s military offensive, sparking a rise in prices and fears of food shortages that will mainly affect the poorest countries.

“We have not imposed any restrictions on the export of fertilizers, nor on the export of food products,” Putin said as he welcomed Indonesian leader Joko Widodo, whose country holds the G20 presidency, to the Kremlin.

Moscow “does not hinder the export of Ukrainian wheat,” Putin said, adding that Russia is “in constant contact” with the UN agency responsible for the issue.

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Putin instead blamed Western sanctions on Russia. He said that by targeting fertilizer company owners, Western sanctions “created conditions that made it much more difficult” to ship certain products internationally.

Moscow says it will let Ukrainian ships loaded with food products leave if the Ukrainian army mines its ports, an option rejected by Kiev, which fears for the safety of its Black Sea coast.

For its part, Russia, another grain-producing power, cannot sell its crops and fertilizers due to Western sanctions hitting the financial and logistics sector.

The Kremlin announced this week that it had “responded positively” to the invitation to the G20 summit to be held in Bali, Indonesia in November, suggesting that Putin attend in person.

However, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi said after a G7 summit to which Widodo was invited that Indonesia had ruled out Putin’s presence, a statement the Kremlin has rejected.

The terms of Russian participation will be determined after “an analysis of the situation,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Thursday.

Western countries, led by the United States, are putting pressure on Indonesia to exclude Russia from the meeting, to which Ukraine has also been invited as the host country.

Widodo visited Ukraine on Wednesday.

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