A Russian merchant ship full of grain stolen in Ukraine has been turned away from at least one Mediterranean port and is currently in the Syrian port of Latakia, according to shipping and Ukrainians officials.
CNN has identified the ship as the bulk carrier Matros Pozynich.
On 27 April, the ship weighed anchor off Crimea and switched off its transponder. The next day, it was seen at the port of Sevastopol, the main port in Crimea, according to photographs and satellite images.
The Matros Pozynich was one of three ships involved in the stolen grain trade, according to open source research and Ukrainian officials.
Crimea, which was annexed by Russia in 2014, produces little wheat because of a lack of irrigation water. But the northern regions of Ukraine, occupied by Russian forces since early March, produce millions of tons of grain every year. Ukrainian officials say thousands of tons are currently being shipped into Crimea.
Kateryna Yaresko, a journalist for the SeaKrime project of the Ukrainian online publication Myrotvorets, told CNN that the project has seen a sharp increase in grain exports from Sevastopol to around 100,000 tons in both March and May. Private.
From Sevastopol, according to satellite images and tracking data reviewed by CNN, the Matros Pozynich sailed through the Bosphorus and arrived at the Egyptian port of Alexandria. According to Ukrainian officials, it contains nearly 30,000 tons of Ukrainian wheat.
But the Ukrainians were one step ahead. Officials said Egypt was alerted that the grain had been stolen, and the shipment was turned over. Matros Pozynich headed to the Lebanese capital Beirut with similar results. The ship again switched off its transponder on May 5, but images from Tankertrackers.com and Maxar Technologies show it headed for the Syrian port of Latakia.
Ukraine’s Defense Ministry estimates that at least 400,000 tons of grain have been stolen and taken out of Ukraine since the Russian invasion.
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