Putin says Russia on top in global wheat sales

Putin says Russia on top in global wheat sales

Russian president says he expects 2024 grain harvest in Russia to be up to 147M tons

UPDATES WITH MORE REMARKS BY PUTIN

By Elena Teslova

MOSCOW (AA) – Russia claims the world crown in wheat sales in global markets, President Vladimir Putin said Tuesday.

Last year, Russia harvested a record crop of 156 million tons of grain, while this year the crop is expected to be more modest, at 143-147 million tons, Putin said at a meeting with heads of regional municipalities in Moscow.

Russian agriculture is now demonstrating "very good, confident rates of development," with the country fully ensuring its own food security, he said.

Last July, Russia refused to extend the Black Sea Grain Initiative, complaining that contrary to the program’s aims, most of the food exports go to rich, developed countries instead of poor ones, and that the Russian part of the agreement had not been implemented.

Turning to the situation in Ukraine, Putin said it may receive an "irreparable blow," and the responsibility for this will be on the current Kyiv authorities because they refused peace talks with Russia.

"If what is going on now continues … it is quite obvious, not only have they (Ukrainians) failed in a counteroffensive, but the initiative is completely in the hands of the Russian armed forces. If this continues, an irreparable, very serious blow may be inflicted on the Ukrainian statehood,” he warned.

Asked about Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s initiative of calling for a "peace formula," Putin said it was an "addition to Zelenskyy's ban on holding talks with Russia," which he signed into law in September 2022.

"Everything (the war in Ukraine) could have been over long ago if they had not refused to negotiate," he said.

Russia started its "special military operation" in Ukraine in February 2022. It demands that Ukraine declare itself a neutral country and abandon plans to join NATO.

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