MOSCOW (REUTERS) – Indonesian President Joko Widodo on Thursday (June 30) said global food supply issues would not improve if Russian fertiliser and Ukrainian wheat is unavailable, and said he urged G-7 leaders to ensure sanctions on Russia do not affect food and fertiliser supplies.
Widodo, who is the current G-20 president, was speaking at a news conference alongside Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin after a bilateral meeting in Moscow.
On his part, Putin denied that Moscow was blocking Ukrainian grain exports and questioned the impact of missing Ukrainian agricultural goods on the world food market.
“We do not prevent the export of Ukrainian grain. The Ukrainian military has mined the approaches to their ports, no one prevents them from clearing those mines and we guarantee the safety of shipping grain out of there,” Putin said, speaking alongside the visiting Indonesian president.
Putin repeated Russia’s assertion that Western sanctions are to blame for problems on the global food market and rising prices.
The United Nations has said the world is facing an “unprecedented hunger crisis” due to plunging grain exports as a result of the conflict in Ukraine, and that ensuring Ukraine can export agricultural products is key to resolving the issue.
But Putin downplayed Ukraine’s impact on the global market, saying there were only 5 million tonnes of wheat currently stuck in the country.
“This is a quantity which does not affect the world markets in any way,” he added, saying it represented just 0.5 per cent of global production.
The United Nations estimated in early May that 22 million tonnes of grain was stuck in Ukraine. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on June 6 that this could rise to 75 million tonnes by this autumn.
Putin also said he wanted Russia to maintain its position as the world’s largest wheat exporter. It currently accounts for around a fifth of global sales.