Russian President Vladimir Putin told Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday that Moscow was ready to work with Ankara to free up maritime shipping blocked over the conflict in Ukraine.
“Vladimir Putin noted the readiness of the Russian side to contribute to the unimpeded maritime transit of goods in coordination with Turkish partners. This also applies to grain exports from Ukrainian ports,” the Kremlin quoted Putin as saying in a readout of a call with Erdogan.
The Kremlin said the two discussed “ensuring safe navigation in the Black and Azov Seas” and “eliminating the threat of mines in their waters”.
Putin also repeated claims that global food shortages were the result of “short-sighted” Western policies, saying Russia was ready to export “significant volumes of fertilisers and agricultural products if the relevant anti-Russian sanctions are lifted.”
Russia’s offensive in Ukraine and Western sanctions have disrupted supplies of wheat and other commodities from the two countries, fuelling concerns about the risk of shortages and hunger around the world.
Russia and Ukraine produce 30 percent of the global wheat supply.
Dozens of container ships are blocked in Ukrainian ports that are surrounded by Russian forces, choking off exports of wheat, sunflower oil and other foodstuffs, as well as fertiliser for crops.
Black Sea navigation has also been hampered by mines placed by both Russian and Ukrainian forces. — Agence France-Presse