Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed on Thursday, May 26 that his country is ready to help the world fight against the growing food crisis if the West removes its sanctions and embargoes imposed on the country following the outbreak of the war in Ukraine which entered its fourth month earlier this week.
The war and the subsequent sanctions on Russia have deepened the global food crisis as both Russia and Ukraine are major food suppliers to the world.
Putin said that Russia can boost the global supply of food grains and fertilizers and help ease the inflation that a large number of countries are currently grappling with. He was speaking to Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi on a phone call. Draghi had called Putin to discuss the global food crisis, TASS reported.
Putin also said the sanctions imposed by the US and its allies are “politically motivated.” In an address to the first Eurasian Economic Forum on Thursday, Putin claimed that the sanctions are harmful for the countries who have imposed them. He pointed to the unprecedented inflation in most of these countries.
“They face challenges inside their nations, and I hope they realize that this policy has absolutely no prospects,” Putin stressed. He also claimed that sanctions have been used by the West as a weapon to weaken those countries that try to follow independent policies.
Putin replies to Western allegations
Draghi had said in a press conference on Thursday that he had called Putin to demand Russia to allow grain cargoes to leave the ports in Ukraine. The West has blamed Russia for holding grains at different ports under its control in Ukraine. The West also claims that lack of Ukrainian grain has led to the rise in food prices globally and may cause a food crisis in some African countries.
Russia has denied the Western allegations and instead claimed that the West itself is responsible for the current food crisis in the world as it has imposed mindless sanctions.
Russia and Ukraine together account for close to one-third of all global exports of major food grains such as wheat, maize, barley and some edible oil. Russia is also one of the largest exporters of different kinds of fertilizers, lack of which can cause reduction in food production. This in turn can cause a rise in the cost of agricultural production, adding to the global food crisis.
Last week, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres appealed to the countries of the world “to act together, urgently with solidarity.” He claimed that the number of people severely affected by food insecurity has alarmingly doubled from 135 million to 276 million in the last two years.
The sanctions and embargoes on Russian exports of oil and gas have also contributed to the rise of inflation in various countries as Russia is the second largest exporter of oil and largest exporter of gas in the world. This has also added to the rising food prices.
War enters its fourth month
The war in the Donbass region has entered a critical phase with Russian forces claiming to have made significant inroads in the region after the fall of Mariupol last week. According to various reports, Russia is concentrating now on consolidating its gains in the region.
According to the UN Human Rights Office, the total number of civilians killed in the war in Ukraine has crossed the 4,000 mark. Millions have been displaced, with a large number of Ukrainians forced to become refugees in different countries of Europe including Russia.
Refuting the Ukrainian claims that its forces are committing a “genocide” in the Donbass region, Putin claimed during his phone conversation with Draghi that Russia is operating humanitarian corridors on a daily basis by allowing ships to leave ports in the Sea of Azov and the Black Sea. He also claimed that these civilian evacuations are “hindered by the Ukrainian side.”
Putin also emphasized that talks are necessary for peace in the region and blamed the Ukrainian side for freezing the talks under pressure from its Western allies.
The talks between Ukraine and Russia which began in Istanbul in March have been halted since April.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian president Volodoymr Zelensky reacted sharply to former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger’s advise during the World Economic Forum (WEF) meeting in Davos earlier this week of initiating talks with Russia. Zelensky compared Kissinger’s suggestion of recognizing Russian claims over Donbass with the policy of appeasement followed by Britain and other countries against Germany before the Second World War.
Russia began its “special operations” in Ukraine on February 24 claiming that Ukraine has violated the 2015 Minsk Agreement and refused to identify the autonomy of Russian-speaking regions in its east. It also accused Ukraine of harboring neo-Nazi elements that are committing atrocities against the Russian-speaking population in the country, as well collaborating with NATO and threatening Russian security.