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Putin to 'lift blockade of grain ports,' in Ukraine, says Germany

Russian President Vladimir Putin told European leaders on Saturday that he will lift a blockade on Ukraine, a major exporter of grain and other vital foods, to help alleviate the rising price of food amid the Russian invasion

A satellite image showing grain being loaded onto a Russian ship at the Port of Sevastopol
A satellite image showing grain being loaded onto a Russian ship at the Port of Sevastopol | Maxar Technologies/CNN

May 31, 2022 9:42am

Updated: May 31, 2022 9:43am

Russian President Vladimir Putin told European leaders on Saturday that he will lift a blockade on Ukraine, a major exporter of grain and other vital foods, to help alleviate the rising price of food amid the Russian invasion.

Putin made the comment during a phone call with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and French President Emmanuel Macron, during which they discussed “the global food situation, which is particularly tense as a result of the Russian war of aggression,” according to a Berlin spokesman.

“Putin assured them of his intention to allow the export of Ukraine, especially by sea,” said the spokesman.

A Kremlin spokesman seemed to disagree with this account of proceedings, saying that Moscow would only be “ready to contribute to finding options for unimpeded grain exports” if international sanctions on its agricultural sector were lifted.

“Increased supplies of Russian fertilisers and agricultural products which, of course, will require the lifting of relevant sanctions, will also help to ease tensions on the global food market,” said the Russian spokesman.

European leaders gathered in Brussels on Monday to explore ways to export Ukrainian grain via land routes and European Union ports, reports The Times of London.

The group also plans to call on Russia to “lift a blockade of Ukrainian Black Sea ports and to allow food exports, in particular from Odesa,” according to a draft diplomatic text reported by The Times.

Food prices have skyrocketed as the Russian war in Ukraine drags into its fourth month, as the two are two of the world’s largest exporters of grain. Ukraine accounts for nearly 10% of the world’s corn supply, and together, Russia and Ukraine provide up to 30% of the world’s graine supply, according to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

The United Nations Security Council warned last week that Russia’s invasion has exacerbated an existing global food security crisis and that the world may only have “10 weeks worth of grain left.”

Satellite photos appeared to show Ukrainian grain being loaded onto Russian-flagged ships.