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A Russian-flagged ship, allegedly carrying thousands of tonnes of stolen Ukrainian grain, was allowed to leave the port of Karasu, Turkey. Turkish officials had previously seized the ship at Ukraine’s request.
Foreign ministry spokesperson Oleg Nikolenko said Ukraine has summoned Turkey’s ambassador to explain the situation.
He said: “We regret that Russia’s ship Zhibek Zholy, which was full of stolen Ukrainian grain, was allowed to leave Karasu port despite criminal evidence presented to the Turkish authorities.
“Turkey’s ambassador in Kyiv will be invited to Ukraine’s ministry of foreign affairs to clarify this unacceptable situation.”
Turkish customs officials seized the vessel on Tuesday after Kyiv said the cargo was illegally transporting 7,000 tonnes of grain out of Russian-occupied Berdiansk, a port in the south-east of Ukraine.
Russia’s foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, confirmed that the ship was Russian-flagged, but added the Kremlin is also seeking clarity.
He said on Monday: “The ship really is Russian-flagged, but I think it belongs to Kazakhstan and the cargo was being carried on a contract between Estonia and Turkey.”
Ukraine has accused Russia of stealing more than 600,000 tonnes of grain from occupied Ukrainian territories to sell on international markets since the start of the invasion in February.
Ukraine’s grain exports are responsible for almost 15 percent of the world’s total.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine in February and Moscow’s control of the exit routes to the Black Sea for Ukraine’s grain have caused a global food crisis.
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It comes just days after Turkish and Ukrainian military officials had a meeting in Ankara to discuss the shipment of grain exports.
The opening of a “grain corridor” in the Black Sea, the evacuation of two A-400 M type heavy transport aircraft of the Turkish Air Force waiting in Kyiv, and claims Russia attempts to transport the grain allegedly usurped from Ukraine to the world markets via Turkey were on the agenda, the daily Hürriyet reported.
Turkish and Russian military delegations met in Moscow last month as part of the efforts carried out for the exit of grain-laden ships from Ukraine.
Turkey, Russia, Ukraine and the UN have been in talks about making a food corridor from Ukraine to the world markets.
Following the Turkish-Russian talks, a Turkish commercial vessel departed from the Mariupol port of Ukraine, which is now under Russian occupation.
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