Speaking in a TV interview on Friday evening, following a meeting with African leaders in Sochi, Putin accused Western leaders of trying “to shift the responsibility for what is happening in the world food market.”
He added that “restrictions imposed by the US and its allies against Russia and Belarus will only exacerbate the looming global food crisis by affecting fertilizer trade and sending the food prices further up.”
Instead of looking toward Russian, Putin said that the root causes of the crisis lie with the US decision to print record amounts of money which led to an increase in global food prices, as well as Europe’s over-reliance on renewables and short-term gas contracts, which have led to price hikes and rising inflation.
The Russian president has dismissed all claims that Moscow is preventing the Ukrainian grain from being exported to other nations as a “bluff.” He has also said that Russia is ready to increase its own grain export up to 50 million tons.
Putin has pointed to the fact that there are several ways to safely transport the grain from the Ukrainian territory, including through Poland and Hungary. He has also said that the Russian forces are about to finish demining the areas of the Black Sea it controls to facilitate safe transfer of goods through the Azov and Black Seas.
The Russian leader has also called the Belarus transport route “the cheapest way” of making the Ukrainian grain reach the customers around the world. Yet, using it would require western nations to lift sanctions they imposed against Minsk, he has added.
Earlier on Friday, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko told UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres that Belarus is ready to transport the Ukrainian grain to the European ports by rail but it would require those ports to be able to accept wares from Belarus, which is currently impossible because of sanctions.
“To create the conditions for the transit of the Ukrainian grain, the ports that would serve as shipping points should be able to load and unload Belarusian goods,” Lukashenko has said.
Guterres, in turn, has said that he would discuss the issue with the leaders of the relevant nations in the coming days.