Putin willing to unblock grain exports from Ukraine but only if western sanctions are lifted

Mon 30 May 2022
Posted by: William Barns-Graham
Trade News

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European leaders have held talks with Vladimir Putin in an attempt to get him to unblock grain exports from Ukraine’s Black Sea ports.

German chancellor Olaf Scholz and French president Emmanuel Macron discussed the situation with Putin by phone on Saturday. Italian prime minister Mario Draghi has also spoken to the Russian leader.

Global grain prices have increased since the Russian invasion of Ukraine three months ago. The country is one of the biggest sources of grain in the world and many developing countries are reliant on it for food.

Grain blocked

Ukraine and some of its western allies have accused Russia of blockading Odesa and holding up the export of large shipments of grain.

Putin said Russia was willing to unblock grain movements from Ukraine’s ports and could also increase its own fertiliser and agriculture exports, but only if sanctions are lifted, reports the FT.

International effort

Boris Johnson told Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that international partners are working intensively to find ways to resume the export of grain from Ukraine.

The leaders agreed it was imperative for Russia to relax its blockade and allow safe shipping lanes, according to Reuters.

“He said that the UK would work with G7 partners to push for urgent progress,” a British readout of the call said.

Food crisis

Dmytro Kuleba, Ukraine’s foreign minister, said that sanctions on Russia have no connection to the unfolding global food crisis, reports the Telegraph.

“The sole reason for shortages, rising prices, and threat of hunger is the Russian military physically blocking 22 million tons of Ukrainian food exports in our seaports,” he tweeted.

Pasta prices soaring

Budget food prices in the UK have risen by more than 15% over the last year, according to new Office for National Statistics data reported in the BBC, with pasta jumping by 50%.

Household staples such as minced beef, bread and rice also recorded large increases.

The analysis found that budget ranges had increased in price by about 6% to 7% in the year to April 2022, about the same as other food ranges.

Oil also up

The Guardian reports that oil prices have hit a two-month high as traders anticipate a belated deal to limit Russian oil imports into the EU, alongside other factors such as a recovery in demand in China as lockdown restrictions ease.

Brent crude futures prices rose above $120 per barrel on Monday morning for the first time since late March.

The EU will continue to work toward an agreement to embargo Russian oil after attempts to do so were held up by Hungary on Sunday, reports CNBC.