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Kyiv asks Turkey to probe three extra Russian ships it alleges transported stolen grain

ISTANBUL: Ukraine has requested Turkey to assist examine three Russian-flagged ships as a part of Kyiv’s efforts to probe what it alleges is the theft of grain from Russian-occupied territory, in keeping with official paperwork.
In a June 13 letter, which hasn’t beforehand been reported, the Ukrainian prosecutor basic’s workplace requested Turkey’s justice ministry to analyze and supply proof on the three named ships it suspects have been concerned in transporting grain allegedly stolen from just lately occupied Ukrainian territories, comparable to Kherson.
The letter, which Reuters reviewed, stated the ships traveled from Crimea’s foremost grain terminal in Sevastopol in April and Could and pressed Ankara to acquire documentation about their cargo and arrival at Turkish ports. Russia annexed Crimea in 2014.

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Smoke rises within the sky after shelling close to a winter wheat discipline, amid Russia’s assault on Ukraine, close to the city of Bakhmut, in Donetsk area, Ukraine. (REUTERS)

All three massive dry bulk carriers — Mikhail Nenashev, Matros Pozynich and Matros Koshka — are owned by a subsidiary of a Western-sanctioned Russian state-owned firm known as United Shipbuilding Company, in keeping with Equasis, a transport database. The Russian firm didn’t reply to a request for remark.
Whether it is established that United Shipbuilding Company transported grain from recently-occupied Ukrainian territory, it might add to rising proof of the involvement by Russian-state owned entities in exporting what Kyiv alleges is stolen items. Ukraine has publicly accused Moscow of stealing grain because the February invasion; Russia has repeatedly denied it has stolen any Ukrainian grain.
The battle in Ukraine has heightened considerations about meals safety each in Ukraine and across the globe, driving up world meals costs to file ranges this yr. Ukraine is likely one of the world’s largest grain exporters however has struggled to export items with battle raging alongside its southern coast and lots of of its ports blocked. Grain accounts for practically a fifth of all of the nation’s exports, in keeping with official information.
Reuters was unable to find out the origin or finish vacation spot of the grain within the ships named by Kyiv within the letter.
The Kremlin didn’t reply to requests for remark. Kirill Stremousov, deputy head of the Russian-installed administration in Kherson, stated grain from the area was going to Crimea and that native farmers have been answerable for transporting it there. He stated he had no data of any shipments to Turkey or the Center East.
Reuters on Friday reported that Kyiv in a separate letter, dated June 30, requested Turkey’s justice ministry to detain and arrest one other Russian-flagged ship carrying what it stated was Ukrainian grain from the occupied port of Berdyansk. On Monday, a senior Turkish official stated Turkey had halted the cargo ship and is investigating Ukraine’s declare.
NATO member Turkey, which has good ties with each Moscow and Kyiv, has criticized the invasion but in addition rejected Western sanctions on Russia. Ankara has agreed with Ukraine to dam industrial shipments between Crimea and Turkey since 2014.
On the similar time, Turkey has performed a key position in discussions between the United Nations, Russia and Ukraine on a possible Black Sea hall to export grain from Ukraine.
Turkey’s justice ministry declined to touch upon Kyiv’s two letters and referred to latest feedback by the Turkish overseas ministry that it had investigated Ukraine’s public claims that grain stolen by Russia had made its solution to Turkey and decided there was no difficulty.
“We noticed that the ships’ port of departure and the origin of the products is Russia on the data,” Overseas Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu informed reporters on June 23, with out figuring out which ships. “We’re in opposition to Ukrainian grains or different items being taken by Russia … and we won’t enable these items to come back to us.” The overseas ministry didn’t reply to requests for touch upon the ship from Berdyansk that arrived in Turkey late final week.
A Turkish diplomatic supply added that Kyiv had shared with Ankara its claims about allegedly stolen grain being delivered to Turkey through Russian ships and that cooperation with Ukrainian officers was ongoing.
The Ukrainian prosecutor basic’s workplace didn’t reply to requests for remark. Taras Vysotskiy, the primary deputy to Ukraine’s agriculture minister, informed Reuters that Kyiv estimates about 400,000 tons of stolen grain has been exported. Ukraine’s ambassador to Turkey, Vasyl Bodnar, informed Reuters Ukraine believes most of that has gone to Turkey and Kyiv has despatched what it thought-about to be proof on the involvement of 13 ships to Turkish authorities.
The June 13 letter stated at the very least two of the ships switched off monitoring techniques that overtly broadcast earlier than getting into Sevastopol port.
It additionally stated Kyiv suspected grain was being taken from just lately occupied territory, notably Kherson, the place it stated there have been a number of grain elevators that the homeowners don’t have entry to because of the occupation. It didn’t determine the homeowners. Kyiv, within the letter, added that it’s investigating legal violations of Ukraine’s guidelines and customs of battle, with out naming people.
Ukraine’s embassy in Beirut informed Reuters that at the very least seven firms who personal storage items in newly-occupied territory have registered legal circumstances with Ukrainian authorities alleging Russia stole their wheat. Two of the businesses, Ukrlandfarming and State Meals and Grain Company of Ukraine, confirmed to Reuters they’d submitted a doc to Ukrainian authorities however declined to supply particulars. The others didn’t reply to requests for remark.
Ukraine has additionally stated Russia has despatched its ally Syria wheat allegedly stolen from Ukraine since invading in February. Ukraine’s embassy in Beirut informed Reuters that at the very least 150,000 tons of what it stated was “stolen” wheat have made it to Syria since February, totally on Russian ships, with out specifying the way it knew.
Neither Syria’s port authority, which is a part of the transport ministry, nor the Syrian info ministry responded to requests for remark.

TURKISH TRIPS
One of many vessels Kyiv named within the June 13 letter, the 169-meter lengthy Mikhail Nenashev, was at Sevastopol’s Avlita grain terminal from June 14 to 16, in keeping with satellite tv for pc imagery captured by Planet Labs PBC, a non-public satellite tv for pc operator, which present the ship docked beside grain silos with cranes towering above.
The vessel arrived eight days later at Iskenderun, Turkey, in keeping with Refinitiv Eikon ship-tracking information. Photographs and movies provided by Yoruk Isik, an Istanbul-based geopolitical analyst and head of the Bosphorus Observer consultancy, present port cranes lifting what seems from the pictures to be a golden, grain-like cargo from the Mikhail Nenashev into vehicles on June 27 at close by Dortyol port.
Since March, the Mikhail Nenashev has visited the Sevastopol grain terminal on at the very least three different events earlier than arriving in Turkey between 5 and 15 days later, in keeping with satellite tv for pc imagery and ship-tracking information.
In a single occasion, it unloaded 27,000 tons of wheat within the Turkish seaport of Derince on April 22, in keeping with information from Refinitiv Eikon, which exhibits the cargo was loaded in Sevastopol, Crimea. Ukraine, in its June 13 letter, stated the Mikhail Nenashev loaded 27,500 tons of grain at Sevastopol’s Avlita grain terminal in April, with out specifying which day.
Dortyol Port didn’t reply to Reuters’ queries in regards to the shipments or precautions taken in mild of Ukrainian claims. Derince Port confirmed it acquired “Russian ships carrying grains” however didn’t touch upon screening processes. There was no reply at Avlita’s head workplace and an individual on the Sevastopol workplace who answered the cellphone denied all data of Ukrainian grain on the port and put down the cellphone.
One other one of many ships, the Matros Pozynich, docked in Syria on at the very least three events inside per week or two of visiting Sevastopol’s Avlita grain terminal, in keeping with satellite tv for pc imagery and ship-tracking information. The third ship, Matros Koshka, has on at the very least three events left Sevastopol’s grain terminal earlier than turning off ship transponders, in keeping with satellite tv for pc imagery and monitoring information. On a kind of events, it docked in Syria 10 days later, in keeping with a Planet Labs satellite tv for pc picture.
All three ships are owned and managed by Russian-based firm Crane Marine Contractor LLC and have been bought in both December or February, in keeping with possession data from Equasis. The corporate is a subsidiary of United Shipbuilding Company (USC), in keeping with a replica of Crane Marine’s constitution presently on its web site. USC’s web site additionally lists Crane Marine as one in all its firms. Russian firm data present Crane Marine is owned by Caspian Power group, which is a part of USC, in keeping with USC firm press releases dated in 2018.
Crane Marine didn’t reply to a request for remark.
America sanctioned USC in 2014 in response to Russia’s efforts “to destabilize jap Ukraine” saying the state-owned protection expertise agency manufactured arms and constructed ships for the Russian navy. In April, Washington renewed and expanded its sanctions regarding the corporate. Britain sanctioned USC in February.

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