UPDATE 1-Russian ministry recommends fertiliser producers halt exports

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MOSCOW, March 4 (Reuters) - Russia’s trade and industry ministry has recommended the country’s fertiliser producers temporarily halt exports, the ministry said on Friday, in a sign that sanctions imposed after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine could have a global impact.

Major international shipping groups including container lines this week suspended almost all cargo shipments to and from Russia to comply with the Western sanctions.

Russia calls its actions in Ukraine a “special military operation” aimed at removing nationalists from government and demilitarizing its neighbour.

“The ministry had to recommend Russian producers temporarily suspend export shipments of Russian fertilisers until carriers resume rhythmic work and provide guarantees that Russian fertiliser exports will be completed in full,” the ministry said.

The Russian association of fertiliser producers declined to comment to Reuters on the ministry’s proposal.

Russia is a major producer of potash, phosphate and nitrogen containing fertilisers - major crop and soil nutrients. It produces more than 50 million tonnes a year of the fertilisers, 13% of the global total.

Phosagro, Uralchem, Uralkali, Acron and Eurochem are the biggest players. They export to Asia and Brazil.

“Vessels are not coming here. And there are no containers at all,” a source in the Russian fertiliser industry told Reuters.

Russia has been considering retaliatory measures on Western sanctions but has not officially announced any major steps so far.

“Failures in fertiliser shipments could have a direct impact on national security in several countries and cause serious food shortages for hundreds of millions of people already in the medium term,” the ministry said in its statement. (Reporting by Reuters; Editing by Frank Jack Daniel)