Accusations against Russia, held responsible for global grain delivery problems because of its offensive in Ukraine, are “baseless”, Russian President Vladimir Putin assured Friday in a telephone interview with Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer.
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“Vladimir Putin stressed that attempts to blame Russia for the difficulties in delivering agricultural products to world markets were baseless,” the Kremlin said in a statement.
The Russian head of state once again pointed to “anti-Russian sanctions from the United States and Europe” as the cause of the food crisis.
On Tuesday, he told Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi that Russia was “ready to make a significant contribution to overcoming the food crisis through the export of grain and fertilizers, subject to the West lifting restrictions politically motivated.
For his part, the Austrian Chancellor told a press conference that Mr Putin had “given signals that he was ready to allow exports from seaports” of Ukrainian agricultural products, in coordination with the UN. .
Ukraine, a major exporter of cereals, especially corn and wheat, is seeing its production blocked due to the fighting.
For its part, Russia, another cereal power, cannot sell its production and its fertilizers because of Western sanctions affecting the financial and logistics sectors. The two countries produce a third of the world’s wheat.
In fact, the conflict has undermined the global food balance, raising fears of a serious crisis that will particularly affect the poorest countries.
During his telephone interview, Mr. Putin also called on the Ukrainians to “demine the ports as soon as possible in order to let the stranded ships pass”, according to the press release.
According to the director of the Russian National Defense Management Center, Mikhail Mizintsev, quoted by the Russian agency Ria-Novosti, the Russian forces are opening two maritime corridors a day to allow boats to leave the ports of Mariupol, located on the sea Azov, and Kherson, Mykolaiv, Tchornomorsk, Otchakiv, Odessa and Ioujni, located them on the Black Sea.
“The Russian Armed Forces open two humanitarian sea corridors every day from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Moscow time,” he said.
On Wednesday, Moscow said that the port of Mariupol had resumed its activities after being demined, a month after the announcement by Russia of the capture of this strategic city.
The port of Mariupol plans to put one of the three grain terminals back into service by July, said a representative of the port administration, quoted by the Russian agency Tass.
“Unfortunately, our three grain complexes are destroyed, currently we plan to rebuild them and by the first harvest, by July, plan to put one of the three complexes with a capacity of 30,000 tonnes into operation,” said he declared.
The Austrian Chancellor also raised the issue of “prisoners of war” during his press conference.
“President Putin said he was ready to strengthen negotiations with the Ukrainians,” he said, adding that Vladimir Putin had “conceded that it was necessary for the Red Cross to have access to prisoners of war . »