German Chancellor Olaf Scholz called on Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday to withdraw his troops from Ukraine as Kiev’s forces launch a counter-offensive.
According to the chancellor’s spokesman, Steffen Hebestreit, during the one-and-a-half-hour phone conversation, O. Scholz called on V. Putin “to find a diplomatic solution as soon as possible, based on a ceasefire, the complete withdrawal of Russian forces and respect for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine.”
O. Scholz also urged the Kremlin host to adhere to an important agreement on the export of grain from Ukraine, which Russia has repeatedly criticized.
During the conversation, the chancellor called on Putin “not to discredit and continue to fully implement” the grain deal, given that global food supplies are limited, Hebestreit said.
Ukraine, one of the world’s largest grain producers and exporters, has had its grain exports blocked by sea for several months due to Russia’s military invasion that began at the end of February.
The export blockade has driven up global food prices and fueled fears of a possible famine, especially in the poorest countries.
Exports of Ukrainian grain and other food products and fertilizers through three Black Sea ports resumed in early August under an agreement brokered by the United Nations and Turkey between Kyiv and Moscow in July.
The agreement, which obliged Russia to end its blockade of Ukrainian ports, set conditions for the export of wheat and other grains.
But Russia has increasingly criticized the deal, saying its exports have suffered as a result. Last week, Mr. Putin said that most of the shipments went to Europe, not to poor countries that need the grain the most.
Ukrainian officials have denied that claim, and the data collected by the monitoring group under the agreement also do not reflect Putin’s statement.
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