A cargo ship based in Russia was loaded with grain that Ukraine is saying was stolen. The same has been detained by customs authorities in Turkey, Vasyl Bodnar, Ukraine’s ambassador to Turkey reported on Sunday.
Bodnar has added that an investigators’ meeting would be held on Monday to decide on the ship’s fate.
On Friday, Ukraine was reported to have requested Turkey to detain and arrest the 7,146 dwt Russian-flagged cargo vessel dubbed Zhibek Zholy. The latter was loaded with a cargo of Ukrainian grain from the port of Berdyansk, per an official from Ukraine and a document observed by Reuters.
The Ukrainian foreign ministry official, mentioning information received from the country’s maritime administration, said that Zhibek Zholy had loaded the first cargo of about 4,500 tons of grain from the Russian-occupied Berdyansk, which the official stated that it belonged to Ukraine.
Bodnar mentioned in early June that Turkish buyers were some of those receiving grains that Russia had reportedly stolen from Ukraine, adding that he had asked for Turkey’s help in identifying and capturing individuals who are responsible for alleged shipments.
Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, the Turkish Foreign Minister, mentioned two weeks back that Ankara was examining allegations that Ukrainian grains has been stolen by Russia and will not permit any such grains to be brought to the country.
Çavuşoğlu seemed to deny Ukraine’s claims of stolen grain shipments reaching Turkey, saying that Ankara had not witnessed any cases of this sort and it had notified Kyiv of the outcomes of the investigation.
In a letter to the Turkish Justice Ministry dated 30 June, Ukraine’s prosecutor general’s office has mentioned that the Zhibek Zholy had reportedly been involved in the “illegal export of Ukraine’s grain” and headed to Karasu from Berdyansk, with 7,000 tons of cargo, which is a bigger load than cited by the official.
The prosecutor general’s office of Ukraine has requested Turkey to conduct an inspection of the sea vessel, seize samples of grains for a detailed forensic examination, and demand information on the location of such grains, the letter highlighted, also adding that Ukraine was all set to do a joint investigation with authorities from Turkey.
A Russian-installed official in Russian-occupied areas of Zaporizhzhia in Ukraine said on Thursday that after a stoppage of several months, the first cargo vessel had left Berdyansk port without naming the Zhibek Zholy.
Ukraine has claimed that Russia has stolen grains from the territories that Russia’s forces have seized since late February. The Kremlin denied such claims of Russia stealing Ukrainian grains.
KTZ Express, based in Kazakh, reported to Reuters that the firm owns the Zhibek Zholy, however, it was taken under a bareboat charter by a Russian firm named Green-Line, which was not designated in sanctions.
KTZ Express added that it was in the process of consulting the parties involved and would abide by restrictions and sanctions.
The Ukrainian foreign ministry official mentioned that the vessel was heading for the port of Karasu.
At anchor, the vessel reported its position close to Karasu port, ship-tracking data from Refinitiv reflected on Friday. The data reflected it crossing the Black Sea from an area close to Crimea. On Friday, it did not list Berdyansk as its destination but tracking data depends on transponders updating real-time positions.
Earlier this month, the defense minister of Russia said that the Ukrainian ports of Mariupol and Berdyansk, controlled by Russia’s forces, were all set to resume their grain shipments.
Western countries have been accusing Russia of creating the potential risk of a global famine by preventing Ukraine from exporting grains via Black Sea ports. Moscow has denied the blame for an international food crisis, and instead blamed the Western sanctions.
References: Alarabiya News, Daily Sabah, The Times Of India