Moscow said on Thursday it would review sanctions on Russia if it considered a UN request to open up access to Ukraine’s Black Sea ports so that grain could be exported, Interfax news agency reported.
Ukraine, one of the world’s largest grain producers, used to export most of its goods through its seaports, but since Russia has sent troops to Ukraine, it has been forced to export by train or through its small port on the Danube River.
“If you have a heart, please open these ports,” UN food chief David Beasley appealed to Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday.
Beasley’s World Food Program feeds about 125 million people and buys 50 percent of its grain from Ukraine.
Interfax quoted Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Andrei Rudenko as saying: “You need to appeal not only to the Russian Federation but also to the full complexity of the causes of the current food crisis. Interferes with normal free trade, including food products including wheat, fertilizer and others. “
Russia’s decision to send troops to Ukraine about three months ago prevented Ukraine from using its main port in the Black and Azov Seas, and cut its grain exports by more than half this month compared to a year ago.
Russia and Ukraine together account for about one-third of the world’s wheat supply. Ukraine is also a major exporter of corn, barley, sunflower oil and rapeseed oil, while Russia and Belarus – which have backed Moscow over its intervention in Ukraine and are under sanctions – account for more than 40 percent of global crop nutrition exports. Potash
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