Russian President Vladimir Putin told the leaders of France and Germany on Saturday that Moscow was “ready” to look for ways to ship grain stuck in Ukrainian ports, but demanded that the West lift sanctions. The Kremlin chief also warned French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz against ramping up arms supplies to Ukraine, saying they could further destabilize the situation in the pro-Western country.
Putin said the difficulties in supplying grain to world markets were the result of “the wrong economic and financial policies of Western countries”.
The Kremlin said Russia was ready to help find options for unhindered grain exports, including the export of Ukrainian grain from Black Sea ports. “An increase in the supply of Russian fertilizers and agricultural products will also help reduce tensions in the global food market, which of course will require the removal of relevant sanctions.”
The Russian attack in Ukraine and Western sanctions have disrupted supplies of fertilizer, wheat and other goods from the two countries, raising concerns about the risks of hunger around the world. Russia and Ukraine produce 30 percent of the world’s wheat supply.
The West accused Putin of using starvation as a weapon in Moscow’s attack on Ukraine. While Ukraine’s Western backers were considering whether to send more arms supplies to Kyiv, Putin told Macron and Schulze that the ongoing arms supplies were “dangerous,” warning of “the risks of further destabilizing the situation and exacerbating the humanitarian crisis,” the Kremlin said.
Putin also said that Moscow was open to resuming dialogue with Kyiv. Talks between Russian and Ukrainian delegations in person and via video link have been held since the Russian military offensive, but recently broke off.
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