LONDON, July 15. /TASS/. The issue of a potential global food crisis that may occur as a result of the conflict in Ukraine is exaggerated, Russian Ambassador to the United Kingdom Andrey Kelin told Sky News.
"The problem is extremely exaggerated. Ukraine is producing about 1% of the wheat grown on the Earth, and exports about 8% of it. We are exporting twice as much as Ukraine, for instance. So, we are not against, we do not put obstacles for Ukraine to export grain from its port of Odessa," he said, adding that the issue of grain exports from Ukraine is being tackled at the UN level and Russia is demonstrating its "good will."
"The issue is now to demine the entry to Odessa port, and Nikolayev port. Demining can by done only by the Ukrainians, because Ukrainians have put mines over there," the ambassador added.
When asked whether Russia would allow NATO ships to accompany Ukrainian vessels transporting grain, Kelin said this scenario was unlikely, as the international right does not allow military ships to enter the Black Sea via the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles without Turkey’s permission. And Ankara is not interested in that, he added.
Speaking about Russian gas deliveries to Germany via the Nord Stream-1 pipeline, Kelin said that a halt in deliveries for routine maintenance was ‘a normal situation’ during this time of the year. At the same time, he highlighted the fact that the decision to reduce Russian gas supplies and eventually stop buying the Russian fuel was the EU's own initiative.
"Of course, we would like to fulfill all our contracts. We have a reputation of a reliable supplier, and we will continue to supply that. But, on the other hand, we should also take measures to find some alternatives, because by the time they [EU countries] reduce it, we need to find other markets for this. And please take into account that we did not start our countersanctioning yet," the diplomat said, adding that Moscow will have to take countermeasures against Europe sooner or later.
On February 24, Russian President Vladimir Putin launched a special military operation following a request for help from the leaders of the Donbass republics. He stressed that Moscow's plans did not include an occupation of Ukrainian territories, its goals being the demilitarization and denazification of the country. In response, the West began to gradually introduce sweeping sanctions against Moscow and to supply weapons and military equipment to Kiev estimated at billions of dollars.