Putin hosted the Senegalese president, who chairs the African Union, at his Black Sea residence in Sochi. Global food shortages and grain supplies stuck in Ukrainian ports were high on the agenda. There is no problem to export grain from Ukraine," he said, suggesting several possible routes.
Exports could transit through the Russian-controlled ports of Mariupol and Berdyansk, or the Ukrainian-held port of Odessa as long as Ukraine "cleared" the waters around it of mines, according to Putin.
The US and the EU have imposed unprecedented sanctions on Moscow because of the conflict in Ukraine, which has spurred Russia to find new markets and strengthen ties with Asian and African countries. Putin said Moscow was ready to find a way to transport grain stuck in Ukrainian ports, but demanded that the West lift sanctions.
The UN crisis coordinator in Ukraine, Amin Awad, said that more negotiations are needed to achieve agreements with Russia on the export issue. There was in principle agreement from Russia that they will agree to that, however there is more negotiation to be done to faciliate the exports of Russia, Amin Awad told an online UN news briefing from Geneva.
Russia and Ukraine are the world's largest and fifth largest wheat exporters, respectively. These two countries contribute 19% of the world supply of barley, 14% of wheat and 4% of maize, accounting for more than 30% of global cereal exports. However, the conflict between Russia and Ukraine has brought the exports of grains and many commodities to a halt, triggering a global food crisis with rising prices for grains, cooking oil, fuel and fertilizers.