Putin has warned French and German leaders against supplying arms to Ukraine

Putin has warned French and German leaders against supplying arms to Ukraine

Westerners have accused Putin of using hunger as a weapon in Moscow’s attack on Ukraine. (File)

Moscow:

Russian President Vladimir Putin told leaders of France and Germany on Saturday that Moscow was ready to find a way to send grain stuck in Ukrainian ports but demanded that Western sanctions be lifted.

The Kremlin has warned French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Schulz against increasing arms supplies to Ukraine, saying they could further destabilize the country in the West.

The talks lasted 80 minutes, according to the German chancellor’s office.

Putin said the problems in the supply of grain to the world market were the result of “the wrong economic and monetary policies of the West.”

“Russia is ready to help find alternatives to uninterrupted grain exports, including Ukrainian grain exports from the Black Sea port,” Putin told Macron and Schulz, referring to the Kremlin.

“Increasing supply of Russian fertilizers and agricultural products will help reduce tensions in the global food market, which, of course, requires the removal of relevant sanctions.”

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and Western sanctions have disrupted supplies of fertilizer, wheat and other commodities from the two countries, raising concerns about the risk of shortages and hunger around the world.

Russia and Ukraine produce 30 percent of the world’s wheat supply.

‘Direct discussion’

According to the French presidency, Macron and Schulz called on Russia for their part to allow grain exports to lift the blockade on the Ukrainian port of Odessa.

The French presidency added that “both leaders noted the Russian president’s promise to allow ships to enter the port for military exports without being militarily exploited by Russia if the mine is cleared first.”

Westerners have accused Putin of using hunger as a weapon in the Moscow attack on Ukraine.

Ukraine’s Western backers were considering whether to send more weapons to Kiev, but Putin also told Macron and Schulz that continuing arms supplies was “dangerous”, warning of further instability and the risk of a humanitarian crisis, the Kremlin said.

The French and German readouts of the phone call did not mention sanctions against Russia or the supply of Western weapons to Ukraine.

The German chancellor’s office said Schulz and Macron had asked Putin to “hold serious talks” with his Ukrainian counterpart Vladimir Zelensky.

The two EU leaders “called for an immediate ceasefire and the withdrawal of Russian troops,” the chancellor’s office said in a statement.

Putin says Moscow is open to resuming dialogue with Kiev, without mentioning the possibility of direct talks between the Kremlin and Putin and Zelensky.

Discussions between Russian and Ukrainian representatives have been held both in person and via video-link since the Russian military offensive, but have recently stalled.

The French presidency added that Macron and Schulz had asked Putin to release 2,500 Ukrainian fighters who were trapped inside the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol and who later surrendered to Russian forces.

“The president of the republic and the German chancellor have demanded the release of about 2,500 Azovstal guards to be taken prisoner of war by Russian forces,” the French presidency said in a statement.

(Except for the title, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and was published from a syndicated feed.)

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