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MOSCOW: Russia, one of the world’s largest wheat exporters, will increase wheat exports this year due to a potentially record harvest, President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday.

Russia competes with the European Union and Ukraine for supplies of wheat to the Middle East and Africa. It continues to export despite difficulties with logistics and payments caused by Western sanctions on Moscow over what Russia terms its “special military operation” in Ukraine.

Russia currently expects to harvest 130 million tonnes of grain in 2022, including 87 million tonnes of wheat, Putin told a meeting of top economic officials in Moscow.

Russia produced a record grain crop 133.5 million tonnes in 2020, including 85.9 million tonnes of wheat. The crop was smaller in 2021.

“If this happens, which we are counting on, it could be an all-time record [for the wheat crop] in Russian history,” Putin said. He did not provide an export estimate. Higher exports from Russia in the new July-June marketing season could help to partly meet rising global demand in the event that Ukraine’s exports remain low and Kyiv does not regain access to its Black Sea ports, Sovecon consultancy said in April.

Ukraine’s ports have been blockaded since Moscow began what it calls a “special military operation” in Ukraine on Feb. 24. Russian exporters have largely managed to resolve problems with logistics and the transfer of payments caused by Western sanctions imposed on Moscow since late February and are exporting wheat from the Russian side of the Black Sea and sporadically from the Azov Sea.

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