Putin says he wants to restrict destinations for Ukrainian grain exports

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends the 2022 Eastern Economic Forum (EEF) plenary session in Vladivostok, Russia September 7, 2022. Sergey Bobylev/TASS Host Photo Agency/Handout via REUTERS

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VLADIVOSTOK, Russia, September 7 (Reuters) – Russian President Vladimir Putin warned on Wednesday of a looming global food crisis and said he would discuss amending a landmark grain deal with Ukraine to limit the countries that can receive shipments.

Putin said on Wednesday that Moscow had done everything to ensure that Ukraine could export its grain, but that problems in the world food market were likely to worsen and a humanitarian catastrophe was looming.

Putin said Russia signed the deal in July, brokered by Turkey and the United Nations, on the understanding that it would help alleviate soaring food prices in the developing world, but that it is instead the wealthy Western countries that benefited from the agreement.

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“If we exclude Turkey as an intermediary country, then almost all the grain exported from Ukraine is not sent to the poorest developing countries, but to the countries of the European Union,” Putin said during the meeting. of an economic forum in the eastern city of Vladivostok on Wednesday.

Putin said only two of the 87 ships, carrying 60,000 tonnes of produce, went to poor countries, as he accused the West of acting like colonial states.

“Once again, developing countries have simply been deceived and continue to be deceived. It is obvious that with this approach the scale of food problems in the world will only increase… may lead to an unprecedented humanitarian catastrophe.”

Putin said he would consider ‘limiting destinations for grain and other food exports’ and would discuss the idea with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, who helped broker the deal to unblock exports from ports from southern Ukraine in July.

Several senior Russian officials, including Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, have said in the past 24 hours that Moscow is unhappy with the terms of the deal and that the West is not fulfilling its obligations.

Moscow says it has been promised the removal of some logistical sanctions which it says are disrupting its own exports of agricultural products and fertilizers, in exchange for the easing of the military blockade on southern Ukrainian ports for allow food shipments to leave its ports. Lavrov said on Tuesday he had seen no action from the West to ease the situation.

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Reuters reporting; edited by Guy Faulconbridge

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