May 17, 2022

Russia Tries Trading Stolen Grain, Ship Turned Away

Russians have already seized at least $100M in grain, destroyed grain storage

Last week, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) of Ukraine demanded Russia stop illicit grain stealing, unblock Ukrainian ports, restore freedom of navigation, and allow trade ships to pass.

According to the Ukrainian government, Russians have already seized at least 400,000 to 500,000 tons of grain worth more than $100 million. It is known that almost all grain-laden ships departing from Sevastopol transport stolen Ukrainian commodities, said the MFA.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine strongly condemns the Russian Federation’s actions in disposing of grain that was illegally seized from Ukrainian farmers. Russian occupants are stealing Ukrainian grain and either consuming it themselves or attempting to sell it on international markets," the MFA said in a comment posted on its website May 11.

Russian ships loaded with stolen grain turned away

A Russian merchant ship loaded with 30,000 tons of stolen Ukrainian wheat has been turned away from at least one Mediterranean port and is now in the Syrian port of Latakia, according to shipping sources and Ukrainian officials.

The MFA of Ukraine warned consumer countries that grain consignments exported by Russia could contain stolen grain obtained as a result of Russian occupation authorities' plundering.

Officials say Egypt was warned that the grain was stolen; the shipment was turned away. The Pozynich then went to the Lebanese capital, Beirut, with the same result.

CNN has identified the vessel as the bulk carrier Matros Pozynich, which is one of three ships involved in the trade of stolen grain, according to open source research and Ukrainian officials.

Grain storage destroyed

In late April, Ukraine accused Russia of stealing grain in territory it has occupied. When asked about the allegations, the Kremlin said it had no information on the matter.

Much of what Russian has not stolen has been destroyed. CNN spoke to Anatoliy Detochka, owner of Golden Agro, whose grain storage complex near Rubizhne was destroyed on April 14. It burned for two weeks.

The silo was only built two years ago at a cost of $5 million. Detochka told CNN when it was hit it contained about 17,000 tons of wheat and about 8,500 tons of sunflower seeds, worth $13 million.

Detochka said at least two other elevators in the area were hit. CNN has obtained video of another grain silo being bombarded in Sylnelkove in Dnipro.

"We demand that Russia stop illicit grain stealing, unblock Ukrainian ports, restore freedom of navigation, and allow trade ships to pass," said the MFA of Ukraine.

"We urge the international community to strengthen economic sanctions against Russia in order to stop its military aggression against Ukraine, to avert a humanitarian disaster and the world's food security crisis."

Lisa Cleaver

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