Revealed: how Putin’s ships are turning off trackers in order to steal Ukraine’s grain – Telegraph report

Jul 2, 2022 | News

– – The Telegraph-Roland Oliphant: “The vanishing ship is one of nearly a dozen Russian and Syrian flagged vessels at the centre of what Western governments believe is large-scale smuggling of looted Ukrainian grain.  Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has wrought chaos on the Pontic Steppe, the fertile black earth region that produces a disproportionate quantity of the world’s cereals.  A de-facto Russian naval blockade of the Black Sea ports of Odesa and Mykolaiv has strangled Ukraine’s usually enormous food exports to a trickle, leaving some 20 million tons of grains, mostly wheat, rotting in silos and warehouses. As many as 25 African countries, including many least developed countries, import more than a third of their wheat from Russia and Ukraine. The United Nations has warned of a food crisis if the standoff is not resolved… Vladimir Putin last month explicitly promised the African Union that Russia would `do everything possible on our side to take care of our regular buyers of grain.’ But the blockade is only half the story. According to Ukrainian and Western officials, Moscow has also systematically looted wheat from areas it has occupied since the war began. In April, Mykola Solskyi, Ukraine’s agriculture minister, said “several hundred thousand tons” had been lifted and presumably trucked to Crimea for shipping abroad. On Friday, Ukraine requested that Turkey detain and arrest the Zhibek Zholy, a Russian-flagged cargo ship that arrived in the port of Karasu early in the morning, for the `illegal export of Ukrainian grain’ from the occupied port of Berdyansk… All are bulk carriers or general cargo carriers capable of shifting grain. All appeared to be sailing between Crimea and ports in Turkey and Syria, and all of them have been turning off their transponders in the Black Sea – a technically illegal but rarely sanctioned stunt more often associated with Iranian tankers trying to evade US oil sanctions. The Matros Koshka’s recent voyages are typical… The Lloyd’s List investigation suggests the ships have been running deliveries to ports in Syria, a close Russian ally, and Turkey, a Nato member that imports large quantities of Russian and Ukrainian grain for milling into flour.”

Revealed: How Russian ships are turning off trackers in the Black Sea to sell Ukraine’s stolen grain (

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