President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr President,
I am very happy to see you in Russia, in Moscow. I know this is your first visit to our country.
Indonesia is one of the countries with which we have developed very good ties after establishing diplomatic relations over the decades. Importantly, we are developing our relations in all areas, such as the economy, politics and security and, of course, the efforts to counter the threat of terrorism.
Last year, our trade increased by 42 percent and it has been growing even faster this year.
I know Indonesia is interested in developing relations with the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), and we decided in May to start the process of its rapprochement with this regional organisation.
This year, you will chair a meeting of the G20 and next year you will be in charge of ASEAN.
I am confident that we will focus on all of these issues today.
When we talked by telephone, you expressed concern over and interest in the issues of settling the crisis in Ukraine, in Donbass. Naturally, I will tell you in detail about everything that is happening there and about our perspective on this problem.
Welcome, Mr President!
President of the Republic of Indonesia Joko Widodo (retranslated): Mr President, thank you for this meeting.
We met in Sochi in 2016. This time I am visiting in Moscow, not only as President of Indonesia, but also as Chair of the G20. As Chair of the G20, Indonesia will continue to strive to strengthen the group in the current difficult situation, to fight the pandemic, as well as to ensure that the G20 continues to be a catalyst in the global economic recovery.
I would like to say a few things. I appreciate that you started talking to us about this situation, because the war has had a huge impact on food. This war has had an impact not only on Indonesia, but also on world communities, because Russia and Ukraine are among the world's bread baskets. Therefore, efforts to restore global supply chains are futile without integrating Russian food and fertiliser supplies and Ukrainian grain supplies. In this regard, I hope that Russia will not extend the ban on the export of grain, including wheat, and will not introduce quotas or restrictions on fertilisers.
Three days ago, during negotiations with the G7 countries, I asked them for guarantees that Russian food and fertilisers would be exempt from sanctions.
Vladimir Putin: Mr President, the questions you have raised are extremely important. I would like to note right away that we do not have any restrictions on the export of fertilisers. At the beginning of last year, we thought about providing our own agriculture with fertilisers as a matter of priority. But today, the level of fertiliser production in Russia is so high that we do not have any restrictions on the supply of this product to foreign markets.
The same goes for food. The world produces 800 million tonnes of wheat. Russia supplied over 40 million tonnes of grain to foreign markets last year. This year, we will be ready to supply about 50 million tonnes.
As for wheat, Russia is an uncontested number one supplier to world markets.
Problems with the export of Ukrainian grain have been widely discussed of late. According to the US Department of Agriculture, they have 6 million tonnes of wheat. According to our information, it’s only about 5 million. Compared with the global production of 800 million tonnes, that amount clearly does not make much difference for world markets. It is only about 2.5 percent. And if we take all the food produced in the world, it’s 0.5 percent. Nevertheless, it is important, but we are not obstructing the export of Ukrainian grain. The Ukrainian military authorities have mined the approaches to their ports; no one prevents them from clearing the mines and letting ships with grain depart from those ports. We guarantee their security.
In addition, there are other export opportunities: via Romania, the Danube and then across the Black Sea, via Poland, via Belarus, and via the ports on the Sea of Azov. I have told our friends from the African Union about this in detail. We also maintain close working contacts on this issue with the relevant UN body, UNCTAD, which has assumed the responsibility to negotiate this issue with representatives of the EU and the United States.
The problem is that those countries have imposed sanctions against some of our seaports, created difficulties with cargo insurance and freighting. All this creates certain impediments on the food and fertiliser markets. I repeat that all these matters are being discussed with the direct involvement of UN Secretary-General [Antonio] Guterres. Top Russian Government officials and I are in constant working contact with our colleagues at the UN. I understand your concerns, Mr President, and I am ready to inform you in more detail about our efforts on this track, so that we could contribute to providing world markets with food and fertilisers.
Joko Widodo (retranslated): Mr President, is there such a possibility, is there such an approach where there is no security? We also said at the G7 meeting that food and fertilisers are not included in the sanctions.
Vladimir Putin: Formally, they are not included in the sanctions; this is true. But the owners of our companies that produce fertilisers, and even their family members, have been put on the sanction lists. This makes it difficult to conclude contracts and complicated financial transactions. They have imposed sanctions on cargo insurance. That is, they have not formally imposed any sanctions on the products, but they have created a situation where it is much more difficult now to supply these products to foreign markets.
Belarus is a leader in fertiliser supplies. But direct sanctions have been imposed on Belarusian fertilisers. Together with Belarus, Russia produces 25 percent of fertilisers, and supplies 45 percent to the market.
On top of that, the problem has absolutely nothing to do with our military operation in Donbass, in Ukraine. It all began a year ago and was caused by Western countries’ erroneous energy policies. Gas prices rose sharply due to some obvious mistakes in the energy sector – and natural gas is commonly used for fertiliser production. With high gas prices, many companies had to shut down because it was economically unfeasible to produce gas-based products.
As for food, as Western countries tried to alleviate the effects of the pandemic, they resorted to emissions, increasing their budget deficits and wiping out food from world markets with that new money. That naturally sent food prices up.
For example, in the past, the United States supplied more food to the world market than it imported. Now they buy $17 billion more than they sell. That is, they have printed and distributed money – and are using those dollars to buy food. That is spurring the prices on, and developing countries find themselves in the worst position in this regard.
We have been debating all these matters with them in absentia. You can debate all you want, but now some action needs to be taken lest the situation becomes tragic. I hope that during the preparations for the G20 meeting, you will also be able to work with us, with other interested countries and with the United Nations.