Putin says he is ready to deliver gas, discuss prisoner swap: Austria

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Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer said Russian President Vladimir Putin told him on a telephone call on Friday that Moscow would meet its natural gas delivery commitments and was ready to discuss a prisoner swap with Ukraine.

Nehammer made the comments to reporters after the two leaders held a 45-minute call.

Asked what Putin had told him about gas deliveries, Nehammer said: “He also raised the subject (and said) that all deliveries would be completed in full.”

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In a separate statement, the Kremlin said Russia had reaffirmed its commitment to comply with contractual obligations on natural gas supplies to Austria, which gets 80 percent of its gas from Russia.

Nehammer, who visited Russia last month for talks with Putin, said the Russian leader had expressed readiness to discuss a prisoner swap with Ukraine.

“If he is really ready to negotiate is a complex question,” he added.

Meanwhile, the Kremlin said that Putin told Nehammer that attempts to blame Russia for difficulties in shipping grain worldwide were unfounded and pointed to Western sanctions instead.

“Vladimir Putin stressed that attempts to make Russia responsible for the difficulties with the supply of agricultural products to world markets are groundless,” the Kremlin said after the phone call.

“Detailed explanations have been given of the real causes of these problems, which have emerged due to anti-Russian sanctions by the United States and the European Union, among other things.”

Putin also urged Ukraine to de-mine ports “as soon as possible” to allow the passage of grain-carrying vessels, the Kremlin said, without providing further details.

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