Turkey seizes a Russian ship with 4,500 tons of wheat allegedly stolen from Ukraine

Turkey seizes a Russian ship with 4,500 tons of wheat allegedly stolen from Ukraine

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Turkish customs seized the Russian-flagged ship this weekend Zhibek Zholy, anchored in waters near the port of Karasu, on the Turkish Black Sea coast. Turkish agents are investigating the origin of the cargo he was carrying at the request of the Ukrainian Prosecutor General’s Office, which has demanded its seizure on the grounds that it is wheat stolen in Ukraine and because it came from the Ukrainian port of Berdyansk, under Russian occupation.

The Ukrainian ambassador in Ankara, Vasili Bodnar, confirmed this Monday to GLM that the investigation into the ship is underway, although the Turkish authorities have not yet reported the result. A Turkish government source told Reuters that “the accusations are being thoroughly investigated” and that the country’s authorities are in contact with Russia, the UN and third parties.

Last week, Yevgeni Balitski, an official of the occupation administration installed by Russia in the Ukrainian region of Zaporizhia, reported that, after the stoppage of activity due to the war, “the first cargo ship” had left the Ukrainian port of Berdiansk loaded with wheat destined for “friendly countries”, according to statements collected by the Russian agency TASS.

The Ukrainian Prosecutor General’s Office identified the vessel as the Zhibek Zholy, with a capacity of just over 7,000 metric tons, and made a request to the Turkish authorities to stop the cargo ship. Ukrainian sources estimate at 4,500 tons of wheat that would have been loaded in the port of Berdiansk and that, according to the Turkish chain Haber Global, should be unloaded in the Turkish port of Karasu for later transport by trucks to Konya and other provinces of Central Anatolia. , where there are a large number of flour industries. The Turkish media assure that the Zhibek Zholy It did not receive the relevant permit to enter the port of Karasu, so it anchored one kilometer from the coast, where it still remains.

It is not the first ship to transport cereals and other agricultural products allegedly stolen in Ukraine to Turkish ports. The Ukrainian Embassy in the country estimates that around a quarter of the more than 400,000 tons of grain stolen by Russia in Ukraine have ended up in Turkish territory. But it is the first time that the Turkish authorities accede to the requests of kyiv to immobilize one of these ships.

“The case of Zhibek Zholy It is very particular, because it is the first time that he has come with documents from the occupied territory to a Turkish port, which has created a unique opportunity to stop him and ask Turkey to stop the ship and confiscate the cargo”, Bodnar assured. The previous ships with allegedly stolen grain, on the other hand, arrived in Turkey with documents showing that the cargo was of Russian origin, with which the Turkish customs have always authorized its unloading.

The Ukrainian ambassador considers the case to be a “manifestly illegal” attempt by Russia to use the occupied ports and set a precedent. “That Ukrainian port is officially closed and, according to Ukrainian law, it is illegal to use it. Our information further indicates that the company was forced to load this stolen grain. So they illegally took this wheat, illegally loaded it and illegally transported it,” Bodnar said. Ankara recognizes the territorial integrity of Ukraine (including the Crimean peninsula, occupied by Russia in 2014) and its regulations prevent Turkish ports from accepting cargo from occupied territories.

The Zhibek Zholy It is owned by a Kazakh company, KTZ, as confirmed by the company itself to Reuters, although it is leased to the Russian Green Line. The Kazakh company is holding talks with the parties to clarify the matter and whether a violation of international sanctions has been incurred.

Melissa Galbraith
Melissa Galbraith is the World News reporter for Globe Live Media. She covers all the major events happening around the World. From Europe to Americas, from Asia to Antarctica, Melissa covers it all. Never miss another Major World Event by bookmarking her author page right here.