Putin has threatened to limit Ukraine’s grain exports to European countries, accusing them of behaving “like colonial powers”.

In his opening speech at the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok, Putin cited figures that did not accurately reflect current UN data on grain shipments, and said he would discuss changing the agreement to limit exports of grain and other food to European countries.

“Only 3% of grain exported from Ukraine goes to developing countries, the majority to Europe… European countries have acted like colonial powers in recent decades, and they continue to do so today,” Putin claimed. wrong

“Once again, the developing countries have been deceived”, he said, adding that “it is worth considering how to limit the export of cereals and other foodstuffs in this way”.

“I will certainly consult with Turkish President Erdogan on this matter, he and I worked out a mechanism for the export of grain from Ukraine,” he said.

In a statement to CNN, the United Nations said that under the Black Sea Grains Initiative, roughly 30 percent of “grains and other foodstuffs” have reached low- and lower-middle-income countries, or about 700,000 metric tons.

Among countries classified by the World Bank as lower-middle or lower-middle income, the UN says that 10% of the initiative’s exports have been sent to Egypt, 5% to Iran, 4% to India, 3% to Sudan, 2%. Yemen, Kenya 2%, Somalia 1%, Djibouti 1% and Lebanon less than 1%.

Among the countries classified as middle-high or high income by the World Bank, the UN says that 20% of the exports of the initiative were sent to Turkey, 15% to Spain, 7% to China, 7% to Italy, 6%. South Korea, 5% to the Netherlands, 4% to Romania, 3% to Germany, 2% to Israel, 1% to Ireland, 1% to France, and less than 1% to Greece and Bulgaria. The statement said the food sent to Turkey was sent to other countries in Asia and Africa.

Putin’s remarks were consistent with Kremlin talk about global food shortages caused by Russia’s blockade of Ukrainian ports. In recent months, Russian diplomats have worked diligently to deflect criticism of Moscow, suggesting that Western sanctions, rather than Russia’s actions, are to blame for the crisis.

According to data from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), some of the world’s most vulnerable countries are among those most dependent on imports from Ukraine. Lebanon, Tunisia, Somalia and Libya relied on Ukraine for at least half of their wheat imports. Eritrea got 47% of its wheat imports from Ukraine and the remaining 53% from Russia.

But Russia’s invasion has affected Ukraine’s entire food production and supply chain, from sowing to harvesting to export, which the United Nations has warned could push 49 million people into famine or famine-like conditions due to the war’s devastating global impact. food supply and prices.

“It is clear that with this approach, the scale of the world’s food problems will only increase, which can lead to an unprecedented humanitarian disaster,” Putin said, adding that he would discuss the issue with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. which helped the deal.

The Black Sea Grain Initiative — led by the UN and Turkey — was signed in July by representatives of Russia and Ukraine.

Its purpose is to facilitate the recovery of vital exports from Ukraine to alleviate global food shortages and rising commodity prices.

Before the deal, about 20 million tons of Ukrainian wheat and corn were stuck in the Odesa port due to a Russian blockade.

Putin downplays Russian losses

In his speech to open the Plenary Session, Putin said that Russia has “lost nothing” in the “special military operation” it has carried out in Ukraine.

“We have not lost anything and we will not lose anything. Our main gain is the strengthening of our sovereignty. We have not started anything, in terms of military actions, but we are trying to finish it,” Putin told the audience.

The U.S. believes Russia is facing a “severe” military shortage in Ukraine and is looking for new ways to bolster its troop levels, two U.S. officials told CNN last week.

On the other hand, British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said on Monday that “more than 25,000 Russian soldiers have lost their lives” since the start of the war.

In late August, Putin ordered the Russian military to increase the number of troops in Ukraine by 137,000, although it is unclear how the Defense Ministry intends to reach this goal.

CNN’s Ivana Kottasová and Josh Pennington contributed reporting.