Ukraine accuses Russia of selling stolen grain to other countries

Ukraine has accused Russian forces of stealing grain from harvest stocks and trying to sell it to other countries.

Russian occupants have already seized at least 400,000-500,000t of grain worth more than £82m, according to estimates from the Ukrainian authorities.

Almost all grain-laden ships departing from Sevastopol – the largest city in Russian-annexed Crimea – are transporting stolen Ukrainian goods, it added.

See also: Farm machinery stolen by Russian troops remotely disabled

In one example, the Ukraine Ministry of Defence said a Russian ship carrying stolen grain docked off the coast of Syrian on Wednesday 11 May.

The Russian bulk carrier Matros Pozynich, which is laden with up to 30,000t of wheat grain, has been pictured through satellite imagery docking at the Latakia port, Syria.

Egypt and Lebanon have previously declined to acquire the stolen Ukrainian grain following efforts by Ukrainian diplomats.

Other countries have also been warned by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine that Russian grain consignments may contain Ukrainian grain looted by Russian occupants.

“Russia has committed a triple crime: it bombed out Syria, temporarily occupied a part of Ukraine, and is currently selling Ukrainian grain it has stolen there to Syria,” said Dmytro Kuleba, Ukraine’s foreign minister.

“I would like to remind everyone involved in this murky business that theft has never brought anyone luck.

“Anyone participating in the selling, transportation, or purchase of our stolen grain is an accomplice to this crime. Their conduct will have appropriate legal consequences on a global scale. We will do our utmost to make their lives as difficult as possible.”

Looting of grain

Numerous reports by Ukrainian farmers and documented facts prove Russia’s theft of Ukrainian grain in a range of grain-producing regions, including Kherson region in the south and near the besieged city of Mariupol in the east.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine urges the international community to tighten economic sanctions against Russia to halt its armed aggression against Ukraine, avoid further humanitarian disaster and deterioration of global food security.

Last week, Josef Schmidhuber, United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization senior official, said there was “anecdotal evidence” of Russian occupants stealing Ukraine’s grain supply, and looting Ukraine’s farms for machinery.

Mr Scmidhuber said the UN estimated that 700,000t of Ukrainian grain had been stolen since the Ukraine war started in late February.

US president Joe Biden said Ukraine has 20m tonnes of grain in its storage facilities. “We are studying ways to return this grain to the world market and thereby achieve price reductions,” he added.

Ukraine is known as the “breadbasket of Europe” and is one of the top three largest grain exporters in the world.

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