Speaking to Erdogan, the Russian president says Moscow is ready to export fertilizers and food if sanctions are lifted.
President Vladimir Putin has said Russia is ready to facilitate unimpeded grain exports from Ukrainian ports in coordination with Turkey, according to a Kremlin readout of talks with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Russia and Ukraine together account for 29 percent of global wheat exports, mainly via the Black Sea, and 80 percent of global sunflower oil exports. Ukraine is also a major maize exporter.
In a phone call with Erdogan on Monday, Putin said the global food shortages were the result of “short-sighted” Western policies, adding that Russia was ready to export significant amounts of fertilizer and food in the event that sanctions against Moscow are lifted, according to the Kremlin reading the conversations.
“During the discussion of the situation in Ukraine, emphasis was placed on ensuring safe navigation in the Black Sea and the Azov Sea and eliminating the mining threat in their waters,” the Kremlin said.
“Vladimir Putin noted the Russian side’s willingness to facilitate the unimpeded transit of goods by sea in cooperation with Turkish partners. The same goes for grain exports from Ukrainian ports.”
It was not immediately clear which Ukrainian ports Putin was referring to. The main grain export ports of Ukraine are Chornomorsk, Mykolaiv, Odessa, Kherson and Yuzhny.
Erdogan told Putin that peace had to come as soon as possible and that Turkey was ready to take on a role in an “observation mechanism” between Moscow, Kiev and the United Nations, if an agreement is reached.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24 rocked the grain market, with wheat futures in Chicago hitting an all-time high in March amid supply concerns.
Moscow expects a record crop this year, with exports shipped from Russia’s open Black Sea ports, while those from Ukraine remain blocked by the Russian navy.
Dozens of container ships have been blocked in Ukrainian ports, stifling exports of wheat, sunflower oil and other foodstuffs, as well as fertilizers for crops.
Navigation in the Black Sea is also hampered by mines placed by both Russian and Ukrainian forces.
Ukraine is trying to export its vast grain stocks by road, river and rail to avert a global food crisis but has no chance of achieving its goals unless Russia’s blockade of its Black Sea ports is lifted, an official said from the Ukrainian Ministry of Agriculture to Reuters. last week.
Before sending troops to Ukraine, Russia had the capacity to export up to six million tons of wheat, barley and maize per month, but exports collapsed to just 300,000 tons in March and 1.1 million in April.
Russia and Ukraine together account for 29 percent of global wheat exports, mainly via the Black Sea, and 80 percent of global sunflower oil exports.
Ukraine is also a major exporter of corn, barley and canola oil, while Russia and Belarus — which Moscow supported in the war and is also under sanctions — account for more than 40 percent of global exports of the nutrient potash crop.
Russia has captured some of Ukraine’s largest seaports and its navy controls key transport routes in the Black Sea, where extensive mining has made commercial shipping dangerous.
Sanctions have also made it difficult for Russian exporters to access ships to move raw materials to global markets.
Putin has said Russia will increase wheat exports in the new July-June season due to a potential record harvest of 87 million tons.