Russia condemned for exploiting starvation to profit off black market ‘Criminal nature’

Russia sells stolen grain from Ukraine on the black market

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Rose Gottemoeller, former deputy secretary general of NATO, told Adam Boulton on TalkTV that the “criminal nature of the Kremlin regime” has been made evident by their attempts to sell Ukrainian grain on the black market. Ms Gottemoeller claimed Russia had “made off with a million tonnes of grain” and has already made sales to Syria and others who are “desperate for food”. Suggestions of theft and black market sales emerged after analysts alleged that the Russian-occupied peninsula of Crimea is shipping more than 50 times the volume of food than it usually does at this time of year. 

Mr Boulton asked: “Russia is also stealing grain, isn’t it, from the parts of Ukraine that it occupies?” 

Ms Gottemoeller said: “This is a sad tale, yes. It really shows the criminal nature of the Kremlin regime that they have made off with thousands, some have even said a million tonnes of grain they have attempted to sell on the black market. 

“Some of it has actually apparently gone out through Turkey, although the Turkish administration involved in this said they thought all the paperwork was in order. 

“In any event, there have been sales to Syria, apparently, and indeed to other countries that are desperate for food for their populations.” 

Recent data has shown that from Sevastopol, the largest city in Crimea and a major port on the Black Sea, roughly 4620,000 tons of agricultural goods have been shipped since March. 

Such goods include grains, oilseeds, vegetable oils, pulses and proteins, according to Geneva-based researcher AgFlow. 

The analysts, which compile and cross-reference data based on inspection reports, receipts of freight services and port lineups, said last year the port shipped only around 8,000 tons. 

Another expert, Maxigrain analyst Elena Neroba, previously based in Ukraine, said the volume of bumper exports were likely a sign of smuggling. 

Ms Neroba said: “This is how Russia exports stolen grain. The Crimean port is large, closer and all the territory along the way is controlled by Russia.”

The Kyiv School of Economics (KSE) has estimated that more than one million tons of grain and oil crops have been stolen by Russia or damaged during the war. 

The value of those crops is believed to be in the region of $600 million (£500 million). 

KSE researcher Roman Neyter described the evidence of Russia stealing grain as “overwhelming”. 

He said: “The evidence is overwhelming. We have some ships coming to Crimea and turning off their transponder and disappearing.”

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Last week, Ukraine suggested Turkey had released a Russian vessel carrying grain seized from the Ukrainian port of Berdyansk. It is this incident to which the former NATO chief Ms Gottemoeler referred. 

Ukraine summoned the Turkish ambassador over the issue, calling the incident an “unacceptable situation”. 

But Russia has repeatedly denied accusations that it is stealing grain, with a Kremlin spokesman dismissing the data showing increased exports from Crimea as fake, though he gave no basis for that view. 

Russia, Ukraine, Turkey and the United Nations are expected to sign a deal later this week aimed at resuming the shipping of grain from Ukraine across the Black Sea.

It is unclear whether these accusations of stealing will be addressed during the talks. 

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