Vladimir Putin makes a toast as he takes part in a virtual format at the opening ceremony of the BRICS Business Forum via videoconference in Moscow on Friday. AP
"The food market is unbalanced in the most serious way," Putin said, addressing a "BRICS Plus" virtual summit that brought together the leaders of 17 countries, including China, India, Brazil and South Africa.
Putin accused Western countries, in particular the United States, of "destabilising global agricultural production" with restrictions on the delivery of fertiliser from Russia and Belarus, and by "making it difficult" for Moscow to export grain.
"Rising prices on agricultural staples, such as grain, have hit the hardest developing countries, developing markets where bread and flour are a necessary means of survival for the majority of the population," Putin said.
He also slammed the "hysteria" surrounding grain that has been trapped in Ukrainian ports since the start of Russia's military actions, saying that it "does not solve any problems on the global grain market."
Putin said Russia is a "responsible actor on the global food market" and is ready to "honestly fulfil all its contractual obligations."
Washington and Brussels have hit Moscow with unprecedented sanctions after Putin sent troops into pro-Western Ukraine on Feb.24.Agence France-Presse
Addressing the St Petersburg International Economic Forum, Putin said, "we are strong people and can cope with any challenge. Like our ancestors, we will solve any problem, the entire thousand-year history of our country speaks of this."
"We are ready to negotiate with everyone involved about acceptable solutions, but that is up to them — we are not the ones refusing to negotiate, they are," Putin told Rossiya 1 state television.
Russian forces launched missile attacks on the western city of Lviv and pounded a multitude of other targets across Ukraine. Russian strikes also killed at least eight civilians in the regions of Donetsk and Lugansk, local authorities said.
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