Russian President Vladimir Putin told Italy's Prime Minister Mario Draghi by phone on Thursday that Russia was ready to help ease the international food crisis, but only if the West lifts sanctions, the Kremlin said.
"Vladimir Putin emphasized that the Russian Federation is ready to make a significant contribution to overcoming the food crisis through the export of grain and fertilizers, provided that politically motivated restrictions from the West are lifted," it said in a statement.
Ukraine has described the Russian position as "blackmail", and British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said on Thursday that Putin was "trying to hold the world to ransom" by weaponizing the food crisis created by his war on Ukraine.
Russia's blockade of Ukrainian ports has prevented it from shipping out grain, of which both countries are major exporters.
Russia accuses Ukrainian of mining the ports.
The conflict is fueling a global food crisis by sending prices for grains, cooking oils, fuel and fertilizer soaring.
Separately, Russia's defense ministry said civilian vessels may now safely use the Azov Sea port of Mariupol in Ukraine, where its forces took full control last week after Ukrainian fighters surrendered at the besieged Azovstal steelworks.
Reuters quoted it as saying that the danger from mines around Mariupol port had now been eliminated.
The ministry said six foreign dry cargo vessels in the port were now free to leave. It said they were from Bulgaria, Dominica, Liberia, Panama, Turkey and Jamaica, and urged those governments to get the owners of the vessels to remove them.