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UPDATE - Russian president expresses readiness to help overcoming global food crisis

UPDATE - Russian president expresses readiness to help overcoming global food crisis
Putin speaks to Italian premier Draghi, says supply chains disrupted due to Western sanctions


By Elena Teslova and Giada Zampano

MOSCOW (AA) - The Russian president on Thursday said his country is ready to help overcome the global food security crisis if Western sanctions imposed due to its war with Ukraine are lifted, the Kremlin said in a statement.

"Vladimir Putin stressed that the Russian Federation is ready to make a significant contribution to overcoming the food crisis through the export of grain and fertilizers, provided that politically motivated restrictions from the West are lifted," Putin said in a phone talk with Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, according to the statement.

The Russian leader said supply chains have been disrupted because Russia has been cut from global logistics and financial systems by the US and EU, making it impossible for Russia to transport food, fertilizers, and conduct the related financial transactions.

"When discussing the issues of energy security, the Russian side confirmed its intention to continue to ensure uninterrupted supplies of natural gas to Italy at the prices fixed in the contracts," the statement added.

Putin and Draghi also spoke about the situation in Ukraine, and the Russian president briefed the Italian prime minister about the steps Russia is taking to restore life "on the liberated territories."

The West has imposed an array of sanctions on Russia following its war on Ukraine, which began on Feb. 24.

Besides casualties and an exodus of millions of people seeking safety in other European countries, the war has caused a disturbance to the world’s food supply chains as the two countries are top global exporters of wheat, essential oil used in cooking and preparing food, corn, and mineral fertilizer.

- Looming food crisis

At a later press conference in Rome, Draghi said he decided to contact Putin due to the massive food crisis that could be sparked by the war in Ukraine.

"I called Putin to ask if something could be done to unlock the wheat that is now blocked in Ukraine's warehouses, because a food crisis is approaching -- in some African countries it is already present -- and will have gigantic proportions and terrible humanitarian consequences," the Italian premier said.

Draghi added that a first initiative could be to cooperate to unblock ports on Black Sea currently obstructed by Russian forces.

Though it remains unclear whether this attempt will be successful, he said he saw room for negotiations and that he expects to call Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to see if he would agree to move forward in this direction.

Draghi said he also stressed to Putin that the reason for the Western sanctions against Russia was Moscow's war against Ukraine.

source: News Feed
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