RUSSIAN President Vladimir Putin denied that Moscow was blocking Ukrainian grain exports and questioned the impact of missing Ukrainian agricultural goods on the world food market.

“We do not prevent the export of Ukrainian grain. The Ukrainian military has mined the approaches to their ports, no one prevents them from clearing those mines and we guarantee the safety of shipping grain out of there,” Mr. Putin said, speaking alongside visiting Indonesian President Joko Widodo.

Mr. Putin repeated Russia’s assertion that Western sanctions are to blame for problems on the global food market and rising prices.

The United Nations has said the world is facing an “unprecedented hunger crisis” due to plunging grain exports as a result of the conflict in Ukraine, and that ensuring Ukraine can export agricultural products is key to resolving the issue.

But Mr. Putin downplayed Ukraine’s impact on the global market, saying there were only 5 million tons of wheat currently stuck in the country.

“This is a quantity which does not affect the world markets in any way,” he added, saying it represented just 0.5% of global production.

The United Nations estimated in early May that 22 million tons of grain was stuck in Ukraine. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on June 6 that this could rise to 75 million tons by this autumn.

Mr. Putin also said he wanted Russia to maintain its position as the world’s largest wheat exporter. It currently accounts for around a fifth of global sales. — Reuters