Ukraine is accusing Russia of selling stolen wheat across the world, including Turkey, Syria, and countries in Africa. The United States has reinforced these allegations after Washington raised alarms that Moscow was shipping off plundered wheat to famished countries in Africa, putting African countries in a tough spot.

In April, Ukrainian First Deputy Minister of Agrarian Policy and Food Taras Vysotsky claimed that invading Russian forces had stolen “several hundred thousand tons” of grain from the territories they had occupied.

“Today, there are confirmed facts that several hundred thousand tons of grain in total were taken out of the Zaporizhzhya, Kherson, Donetsk, and Luhansk regions,” Taras Vysotskiy said. Since then, Vysotskiy’s estimates have tripled, saying that over 1.5 million tons have now been looted from Ukrainian grain stores. This number may have gone higher since April as Russia continues to loot Ukraine’s wheat and grain.

Last week, the Ukrainian Embassy in Beirut reported that approximately 100,000 tons of stolen grains had been shipped to Syria. One shipment was reported to be aboard the Russian vessel, the Matros Pozynich. Intel shows the ship loading wheat at the port in Sevastopol, Crimea, which has been in Russian control since 2014.

“The wheat is stolen from a facility that combines wheat from three Ukrainian regions into one batch,” the embassy said. “This is criminal activity,” the Ukrainian envoys said, adding that they have tried to contact Syrian authorities to no avail.

Stolen Ukrainian wheat onboard the Russian vessel Matros Pozynich (Yörük Işık). Source:
Stolen Ukrainian wheat on board the Russian vessel Matros Pozynich (Yörük Işık/Twitter)

With international wheat prices hovering above $400 per ton, the amount of stolen grains sent to Syria would have been worth over $40 million.

That same week, Kyiv’s ambassador to Ankara also reported that some buyers of stolen grain came from Turkey.

“Russia is shamelessly stealing Ukrainian grains and getting them out from the invaded Crimea. These grains are being shipped to foreign countries, including Turkey,” Ambassador Vasyl Bodnar said.