Russia has tied a possible opening of Ukrainian ports to grain exports to a partial lifting of Western sanctions against Moscow. “If our partners want to reach a solution, then the problems associated with lifting the sanctions imposed on Russian exports must also be solved,” Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Andrei Rudenko said on Thursday, according to the Interfax agency.

The international community has been demanding that Russia allow the export of Ukrainian grain for weeks. Ukraine complains that its ports in the Black Sea are blocked by the Russian Navy. Both countries are among the largest wheat exporters and play an important role in global food security.

There are complex reasons for the current food crisis and the high prices, said Rudenko. The cause of the crisis is primarily the sanctions of the US and the EU, “which prevent normal free trade, including food, including wheat, fertilizer and other things”. Russia had repeatedly criticized the Western sanctions in the wake of the war of aggression against Ukraine as “illegal”.

Russian Ambassador to the US Anatoly Antonov said the crisis was not new but was exacerbated by the “unilateral and illegitimate anti-Russian sanctions”. For example, supply chains were destroyed and international payment transactions were disrupted.