Kyiv’s ambassador in Ankara said on Friday Turkish buyers were among those purchasing grain that Russia stole from Ukraine, adding that he has sought Turkey’s help in identifying and capturing the individuals responsible for the sales and purchases, Reuters reported.
Russia and Ukraine account for nearly a third of global wheat supplies, while Russia also exports fertilizer and Ukraine corn and sunflower oil. But Ukrainian grain shipments from its Black Sea ports have stalled since Russia invaded, with some 20 million tons of grain stuck.
Ambassador Vasyl Bodnar said Russia was shipping the stolen grain out of Crimea, which it annexed in 2014, and added that Kyiv was working with Turkey and INTERPOL to find the culprits.
“Russia is shamelessly stealing Ukrainian grain and trying to get it out from … Crimea. This stolen grain is being sold to foreign countries, and Turkey is one of them,” he told reporters in Ankara.
“We have made our appeal for Turkey to help us and, upon the suggestion of the Turkish side, are launching criminal cases regarding those stealing and selling the grain,” he said.
The Ukrainian Embassy in Ankara later said the vessels that were involved in the stolen grain shipments were the Nadezhda, Finikia, Sormivskiy, Vera and Mikhail Nenashev. Reuters was not able to independently verify the embassy’s claims.
The Ukrainian Embassy in Beirut told Reuters this week Russia had sent its ally Syria some 100,000 tons of stolen wheat.
The conflict has fueled a global food crisis, prompting the United Nations to pitch the plan to re-open shipping routes from Odesa and other Ukrainian ports.