Ship boat

Exclusive: Ukraine calls on Turkey to detain Russian-flagged vessel carrying Ukrainian grain

  • Ukraine says ship is involved in illegal grain export
  • Kahakh-based owner says vessel chartered by Russian company
  • The Kremlin previously denied that Russia stole Ukrainian grain

LONDON/ISTANBUL, July 1 (Reuters) – Ukraine has asked Turkey to detain and arrest the Russian-flagged freighter Zhibek Zholy carrying a cargo of Ukrainian grain from the Russian-occupied port of Berdyansk, an official says. Ukrainian and a document seen by Reuters.

The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry official, citing information received from the country’s maritime administration, said the 7,146 dwt Zhibek Zholy loaded the first cargo of some 4,500 tonnes of grain from Berdyansk, which according to the responsible, belonged to Ukraine.

In a letter dated June 30 to the Turkish Ministry of Justice, the Office of the Prosecutor General of Ukraine separately indicates that the Zhibek Zholy was involved in the “illegal export of Ukrainian grain” from Berdyansk and was heading towards Karasu, in Turkey, with 7,000 tons of cargo, which is a bigger cargo than quoted by the official.

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Ukraine’s Prosecutor General’s Office has asked Turkey to ‘conduct an inspection of this vessel, seize grain samples for forensic examination, demand information on the location of this grain’, the letter says. , adding that Ukraine was ready to conduct a joint investigation with Turkish authorities.

A Russian-installed official in Russian-occupied areas in Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia region said on Thursday that after a months-long stoppage, the first cargo ship left the port of Berdyansk without naming the Zhibek Zholy.

On Friday, Kremlin officials in Moscow did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Ukraine has accused Russia of stealing grain from territories Russian forces have seized since its invasion began in late February. The Kremlin has previously denied that Russia stole Ukrainian grain.

Workers store grain at a terminal during the barley harvest in the Odessa region, as Russia’s attack on Ukraine continues, Ukraine June 23, 2022. REUTERS/Igor Tkachenko

The Turkish Foreign Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the Zhibek Zholy’s arrival.

Kazakh company KTZ Express confirmed to Reuters that the Zhibek Zholy was owned by the company, but said it was taken on a bareboat charter – when no crew or supplies are involved in the lease – by the Russian company Green-Line, which was not named under any sanctions.

KTZ Express added that it is consulting with relevant parties and will abide by all sanctions and restrictions. Green-Line could not immediately be found to request comment.

The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry official added that the ship was heading for the Turkish port of Karasu.

The ship reported its position at anchor near the port of Karasu, Refinitiv ship tracking data showed on Friday. Data shows him crossing the Black Sea from Crimea. It hasn’t listed Berdyansk as a destination in the past 48 hours – but the tracking data is based on transponders updating their positions.

Earlier this month, the Russian Defense Minister said the Ukrainian ports of Berdyansk and Mariupol, controlled by Russian forces, were ready to resume grain shipments.

Western countries have accused Russia of creating a risk of global famine by preventing Ukraine from exporting grain through its Black Sea ports. Moscow denies responsibility for the international food crisis, blaming Western sanctions.

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Reporting by Jonathan Saul in London and Jonathan Spicer in Istanbul, additional reporting by Tamara Vaal in Nur-Sultan and Omer Berberoglu in Istanbul; Editing by Frank Jack Daniel and Alison Williams

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