A Ukrainian official said Friday that "maritime humanitarian corridors" announced earlier this week by the Russian military had not been agreed by Ukraine and accused Russia of trying to shift blame on Ukraine for a global food crisis.
Serhii Bratchuk, spokesman for the Operational Staff of the Odesa regional administration, said an announcement by the Russian Ministry of Defense of safe lanes for ships were "attempts to create an informational alibi for Russia."
"So this is just another lie of Russia and an attempt to blame Ukraine in creating a food crisis," he said.
Russia's blockade of Ukrainian ports has contributed to global grain shortages. Russian President Vladimir Putin and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi discussed the global food security issue in a phone call Thursday, according to readouts of the call from both governments.
According to the Kremlin, Putin said Russia was ready to take steps to mitigate the crisis by allowing export of grain and fertilizers if the West lifts what Russia calls "politically motivated" sanctions.
Earlier this week, the Russian military claimed it would open two "maritime humanitarian corridors" -- one from the direction of the Ukrainian ports of Kherson, Mykolaiv, Chornomorsk, Ochakiv, Odesa and Pivdennyi (Yuzhny) and another from the port of Mariupol on the Azov Sea. In his call with Draghi, Putin claimed the operation of those corridors was "hindered by the Ukrainian side," the Kremlin said.
Army Gen. Christopher Cavoli, the nominee to be the next top US general overseeing the US military presence in Europe, told lawmakers Thursday that grain shortages were “being felt on the African continent." UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said Thursday that Putin is "weaponizing hunger and lack of food amongst the poorest people around the world."