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President Vladimir Putin said Russia was one of the world’s main producers of fertiliser, which is essential to global supply chains. Image Credit: Reuters

London: Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday that Russia would ultimately emerge stronger and more independent after overcoming the difficulties caused by what he called the West’s illegitimate sanctions.

Putin said there had been no alternative to what Russia calls its special military operation in Ukraine and that Russia was not a country which could accept compromising its sovereignty for some sort of short-term economic gain.

“These sanctions would have been imposed in any case,” Putin told a meeting of the Russian government. “There are some questions, problems and difficulties but in the past we have overcome them and we will overcome them.”

The sanctions could send global food prices soaring, Putin said, as Russia was one of the world’s main producers of fertiliser, which is essential to global supply chains.

“Russia and Belarus are some of the biggest suppliers of mineral fertilisers. If they continue to create problems for the financing and logistics of the delivery of our goods, then prices will rise and this will affect the final product, food products,” Putin said.

US Vice President Kamala Harris, speaking alongside Polish President Andrzej Duda at a press conference in Warsaw, where she is demonstrating US support for Nato’s eastern flank allies, praised the Polish people for their generosity for taking in nearly 1.5 million refugees.

“I’ve been watching or reading about the work of ordinary people doing extraordinary things, and so I bring you thanks from the American people,’’ Harris said earlier during a meeting with Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki hours after the US House passed a massive spending bill that includes $13.6 billion in aid for Ukraine and its European allies.

The legislation includes $6.8 billion to care for refugees and other economic aid to allies.

Later Thursday, the vice president was slated to meet with Ukrainian refugees who have fled to Poland.

Differences between Warsaw and Washington

The vice president is also scheduled to meet with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau while in Warsaw. The Canadian leader has been in Europe in recent days meeting with allies about Ukraine.

Harris’ whirlwind visit to Poland and Romania was billed by the White House as a chance for the vice president to consult with two of the leaders from eastern flank Nato nations about the growing humanitarian crisis.

“The United States is absolutely prepared to do what we can and what we must to support Poland, in terms of the burden that they have taken on,” said Harris.

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But differences between Warsaw and Washington over a Polish plan to send Soviet-made fighter jets to a base in Germany for Ukraine’s use have cast a shadow over Harris’ visit to Poland. Just as Harris arrived in Warsaw late Wednesday evening, the Pentagon definitively rejected the idea.

The proposal was publicly floated by Poland — without first consulting the US — days after Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the Biden administration was “very, very actively’’ looking at a proposal under which Ukraine’s neighbour Poland would supply Kyiv with Soviet-era fighters and in turn receive American F-16s to make up for their loss. Polish government officials, however, insisted any transfer of planes must be done within the Nato framework.

“In a nutshell we have to be a responsible member of the North Atlantic Alliance,” said Duda.

On Wednesday, the Pentagon shut the door on the prospect of Nato transferring jets to Ukraine, saying such a move with a US and Nato connection would run a “high risk’’ of escalating the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

Harris, in her remarks, brushed aside any notion of tensions between Poland and the US over how to effectively support Ukraine. “I want to be very clear, the United States and Poland are united in what we have done and are prepared to do to help Ukraine and the people of Ukraine, full stop,” she said.