President Vladimir Putin told Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi on Thursday that Moscow is ready to make a “major contribution” in the course of preventing an impending food crisis if the West lifts its sanctions.
After Putin announced the launching of a special military operation in Ukraine on February 24, Russia was hit with unprecedented draconian sanctions.
Sanctions and military action have affected Russian and Ukrainian supplies of fertilizer, wheat, and other commodities, knowing that the two countries produce 30% of the world’s wheat supply.
“Putin emphasizes that the Russian Federation is ready to make a significant contribution to overcoming the food crisis through the export of grain and fertilizer, subject to the lifting of politically motivated restrictions by the West,” the Kremlin said in a statement following the call.
Putin also spoke about “steps taken to ensure the safety of navigation, including the daily opening of humanitarian corridors for the exit of civilian ships from the ports of the Azov and the Black Sea, which is impeded by the Ukrainian side.”
He also dismissed as “unfounded” suggestions that Russia was to blame for global food supply shortages.
On its part, the United States dismissed Putin’s remarks. “Now they’re using economic tools, as weapons. They’re weaponizing food. They’re weaponizing economic assistance. I guess we shouldn’t be surprised by that, since they’ve weaponized everything else, including lies and information,” Pentagon Spokesperson John Kirby claimed.
“The administration is in discussions with our international partners and allies about how best to address this,” he said.
Draghi told a press conference that “the purpose of this telephone call was to ask if something could be done to unblock the wheat that is now in the depots in Ukraine.”
He suggested “collaboration between Russia and Ukraine on the unblocking of the Black Sea ports,” where the wheat, which is at risk of rotting, is located — “on the one hand to clear these ports and on the other hand to ensure that there are no clashes during the clearing”.
Draghi said there was “a readiness to continue in this direction” on the Russian side, and that he would call Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky “to see if there is a similar readiness.”
But “when asked if I have seen any glimmer of hope for peace, the answer is no,” the Italian Prime Minister said.
Source: Agencies (edited by Al-Manar English Website)