LONDON (Reuters) - The Kremlin said on Wednesday that Western sanctions against Moscow must be lifted before Russian grain could be delivered to international markets.
"President (Vladimir) Putin said that in order for Russian grain volumes to be delivered to international markets, direct and indirect sanctions against Russia must be lifted," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on a conference call.
He said the sanctions, which the West imposed in response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine, were affecting shipping insurance, payments, and access to European ports."
He added that "no substantive discussions" about lifting them were taking place.
Ukraine and Russia together account for nearly a third of global wheat supplies, while Russia is also a key fertilizer exporter and Ukraine a major supplier of corn and sunflower oil.
Ukraine's grain exports have been halted by a Russian blockade of its Black Sea ports, but Moscow blames the situation on Ukraine's failure to clear mines from the ports.
Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Wednesday the onus was on Ukraine to solve the issues with grain shipments by de-mining the approaches to its ports, and that Moscow needed to take no action because it had already made the necessary commitments.
Peskov and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov both alleged that Ukrainian grain exports make up a mere fraction of the global market.
"As far as we know, there is much less grain than the Ukrainians say," Peskov said. "There is no need to exaggerate the importance of these grain reserves from the point of view of their impact on international markets."
Lavrov accused the West of inflating the issue related to Ukrainian grain exports into a "global catastrophe".
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Ukraine is the fifth largest wheat exporter in the world, with a global market share of 10% in recent years.
Russia's military campaign in Ukraine has fuelled surging prices for grains, cooking oils, fuel and fertilizer.
(Reporting by Reuters; Editing by Alex Richardson)