Kremlin says sanctions must be lifted for Russian grain to reach markets

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LONDON – The Kremlin said on Wednesday (June 8) that Western sanctions on Moscow must be repealed before Russian grain can be delivered to international markets.

“President (Vladimir) Putin stated that direct and indirect sanctions on Russia must be eased in order for Russian grain amounts to be transferred to foreign markets,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on a conference call.

He said that the sanctions implemented by the West in reaction to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine were having an impact on shipping insurance, payments, and access to European ports.”

He also stated that there were “no substantive negotiations” regarding lifting them.

Ukraine and Russia account for about one-third of world wheat supplies, while Russia is also a major fertilizer exporter and Ukraine is a major corn and sunflower oil supplier.

The Russian embargo of Ukraine’s Black Sea ports has blocked grain exports, but Moscow blames the issue on Ukraine’s failure to clear mines from the ports.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Wednesday that the onus was on Ukraine to resolve grain-shipment concerns by de-mining the approaches to its ports, and that Moscow needed to take no action because it had already made the required assurances.

Both Peskov and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov claimed that Ukrainian grain exports account for only a small portion of the worldwide market.

“As far as we know, there is significantly less grain than the Ukrainians claim,” stated Peskov. “There is no need to overstate the significance of these grain stockpiles in terms of their impact on international markets.”

Lavrov accused the West of exaggerating the issue of Ukrainian grain exports to the point of “world catastrophe.”

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