Russia says it is not preventing ships from exporting grain

Russia says it is not preventing ships from exporting grain

Kiev has prevented ships from exporting grain by mining its own ports, Moscow says.

Russia is not preventing ships from moving grain out of Ukraine, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Tuesday, and Western claims are part of a smear campaign that won't solve the global food crisis.

He said that Ukraine itself, which has been the sole party that prevents ships from using Ukrainian ports and exporting grain by sea, has deployed sea mines that have made navigation unsafe.

Lavrov said that the Russian Navy will ensure unrestricted movement of ships to the Mediterranean if the demining problem is solved.

Russia had made all the guarantees it could make a long time ago, he said.

The foreign minister suggested that Western politicians who have expressed concerns over surging food prices should do something to address the problem. Western sanctions have disrupted the logistical and financial infrastructure that Russia uses to export grain, he said.

Lavrov was responding to criticism from the US and its allies, who claim that a Russian naval blockade is preventing grain exports from Ukraine. A corridor in the Black Sea is open for civilian traffic every day, according to the Russian military.