Indonesia Leader Targets Food Crisis During Russia-Ukraine Peace Mission

Indonesia’s president ended a trip to Ukraine and Russia saying he hoped for progress reintegrating global food and fertilizer supply lines disrupted by the conflict, and he offered to be a diplomatic bridge between the two nations.

President Joko Widodo, who is the G-20 president this year, was speaking at a news conference alongside his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin after a bilateral meeting in Moscow on Thursday.

His trip followed a visit to Kyiv on Wednesday where he met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

“I really appreciate President Putin who said earlier that he will provide security guarantee for food and fertilizer supplies from both Russia and Ukraine. This is good news,” said the Indonesian president, who is widely known as Jokowi.

“For the sake of humanity, I also support the United Nations’ efforts to reintegrate Russian food and fertilizer commodities and Ukrainian food commodities to reenter the world supply chain,” he said.

Jokowi said he had urged leaders of the G-7 during a meeting he attended in Germany this week to ensure sanctions on Russia did not affect food and fertilizer supplies.

The war in Ukraine has caused major disruptions to global trade, with the prices of grain and wheat soaring amid a blockade of Ukrainian seaports and sanctions on Russian commodities such as oil, gas and fertilizer.

Speaking alongside Jokowi in Moscow, Putin denied Russia was blocking Ukrainian grain exports. 

“The Ukrainian military has mined the approaches to their ports,” he said, “No one prevents them from clearing those mines and we guarantee the safety of shipping grain out of there.”

As G-20 president this year, Jokowi has sought to patch up divisions in the group exposed by the war in Ukraine and threats to boycott the summit if Russia attended, as well as leveraging his country’s non-aligned position to push for peace.

On Thursday, he said he had conveyed a message from Zelenskyy to Putin, and said Indonesia remained willing to be a “communication bridge” between the two leaders. He did not say what was in the message.

Separately, Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said she had held phone calls with U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, and the head of the International Committee of the Red Cross, among others, about the food crisis and possible ways to re-integrate Ukraine and Russia into the global food chain.

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