Russian-flagged ships 'carry Ukraine's grain to Syria'

Russian-flagged ships 'carry Ukraine's grain to Syria'
2 min read
Ukraine has accused Russia of stealing grain from the territories that Russian forces occupied since its invasion began in late February.
Ukraine is one of the world's largest grain exporters [GENYA SAVILOV/AFP/Getty-file photo]

Russian-flagged ships have been carrying grain harvested in Ukraine last season and transported it to Syria, US satellite imagery company Maxar said on Thursday.

Maxar's images showed two Russian-flagged bulk carrier ships docked in the Russian-annexed Crimean port of Sevastopol in May and being loaded with grain, the company said.

Days later, Maxar satellites collected images of the same ships docked in Syria, with their hatches open and semi-trucks lined up ready to haul the grain away, Maxar said. Russia is a key backer of Syria's Assad regime.

The company said another image from June also showed a different ship being loaded with grain in Sevastopol.

Ukraine has accused Russia of stealing grain from the territories that Russian forces occupied since its invasion began in late February.

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Moscow's brutal war threatens to cause severe food shortages worldwide as Russia and Ukraine account for about 29 percent of global wheat exports.

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.

On 8 June, the deputy head of Ukrainian agriculture producers union UAC said that Russia has stolen about 600,000 tonnes of grain from occupied territory and exported some of it.

Russia claims its action in Ukraine are a "special military operation" and that its aim was to disarm and "denazify" its neighbour.

The West and Ukraine reject this, saying it is a pretext for unprovoked aggression.

(Reuters and The New Arab Staff)