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331783

UPDATE 1-Russia may downgrade 2022/23 grain export forecast - ministry

* This content was produced in Russia, where the law restricts coverage of Russian military operations in Ukraine. (Adds quotes and context)

MOSCOW, Aug 5 (Reuters) - Russia will downgrade its forecast for grain exports in the 2022/23 July-June season from the current 50 million tonnes if its harvest fails to reach the target of 130 million tonnes, the agriculture ministry said on Friday.

The pace of crop harvesting in Russia, the world's largest wheat exporter, is currently slower than the ministry expected due to a cold spring leading to a late start, as well as rain and a lack of spare parts for foreign agricultural equipment, it said.

"Taken together, all of this creates risks in terms of reaching the grain harvest figure of 130 million tonnes," agriculture minister Dmitry Patrushev said in a statement, referring to a target announced in May by President Vladimir Putin.

"Of course, we will supply our market in full, there will be no problem with that. But if the planned volumes are not achieved, we will have to revise our plans to export 50 million tonnes," Patrushev said. "This might have a negative impact on the global grain market."

The ministry said that anomalies in the climate and logistical problems were additional factors creating serious risks to global food security in the current crop year.

Russia supplies grain to countries in Africa and the Middle East that rely heavily on imports.

Western countries have imposed a barrage of economic sanctions to try to force Moscow to withdraw its forces, which have taken control of around a fifth of Ukraine's territory.

The sanctions have complicated logistics and processing of payments for exporters of Russian grain, but also restricted the availability of spares for a broad range of Western-made equipment.

Moscow has blamed the sanctions for a reduction in the volume of gas it supplies to Germany and other European Union countries through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline to around 20% of its capacity.

Germany dismisses the assertion and says there is no legal or technical reason for Gazprom, the state-controlled gas producer, to reduce the flow of gas.

(Reporting by Reuters; editing by Guy Faulconbridge)

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