Russia stole ‘600k tonnes of grain’ from occupied Ukraine territory as food crisis deepens

Ukraine war: Food is the Kremlin's 'arsenal of terror'

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The deputy head of Ukraine’s agricultural producers’ union said on Wednesday that Russia has also exported some of it. According to the report, Ukraine will demand Russia provide compensation for both the theft of the grain and the destruction of the property of farmers, Denys Marchuk, the head of the UAC, told a television channel.

Mr Marchuk said: “To date, about 600,000 tonnes have been stolen from agricultural companies and taken to the temporarily occupied territory of the Crimean Peninsula and from there it moves to ports, in particular to Sevastopol, and from there, ships go to the Middle East.”

He added that about 100,000 tonnes of grain had already been trans-shipped in Syria, according to evidence “recorded by the USA”.

However, the claims have been denied by Russia.

The US alleges that Russia is trying to sell stolen Ukrainian wheat to drought-stricken countries in Africa, the New York Times reported.

In mid-May, the US sent an alert to 14 countries, mostly in Africa, that Russian cargo ships were leaving ports near Ukraine laden with the grain, the paper reported, citing a State Department cable.

Ukraine is one of the world’s largest grain exporters, and Western countries have accused Russia of creating the risk of global famine by shutting Ukraine’s Black Sea ports.

Moscow denies responsibility for the international food crisis, blaming Western sanctions.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov discussed the grain problem with his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu in Ankara on Wednesday, but there was no breakthrough.

Mr Lavrov denied that Russia was obstructing Ukraine’s wheat exports, saying the onus was on Ukraine to de-mine the waters off Odesa and other ports.

A Ukrainian foreign ministry spokesman said Ukraine could not de-mine the coast because Russia would “use grain corridors to attack southern Ukraine”.

Russia also blames Western sanctions for the food crisis.

The West, however, says Russia has “weaponized” food supplies.

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Turkey is trying to broker a deal to create safe maritime corridors.

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