Turkey has stopped a Russian-flagged cargo ship off the Black Sea coast and is investigating Ukraine’s claims that the ship was carrying stolen grain, a Turkish official said today, quoted by Reuters.
The Ukrainian ambassador to Turkey, Vasyl Bodnar, said yesterday that the cargo ship “Zhibek Joly” was detained by the Turkish customs authorities. Last week, Ukraine asked Turkey to detain the vessel, according to an official and documents were seen by Reuters.
Ukraine has accused Russia of stealing grain from territories Russian forces have seized since the Russian invasion began in late February. The Kremlin has previously denied that Russia stole Ukrainian grain.
A Ukrainian foreign ministry official, citing information from Ukraine’s maritime administration, told Reuters on Friday that the Zhibek Joly had loaded the first cargo of around 4,500 tonnes of Ukrainian grain from Berdyansk, a Russian-occupied port in southern Ukraine.
Turkish authorities are negotiating with representatives of Russia, the United Nations and other countries regarding the ownership of the ship’s cargo, which has been at anchor a mile from the Turkish Black Sea port of Karasu since July 1, Turkish TV station A Haber reported, citing representatives of the port.
According to the television, quoted by TASS, no permits have been received from the Turkish Ministry of Transport for the ship to enter the port. “A Haber” states that if permission is obtained, the vessel will be unloaded in the port of Karasu; otherwise, it will be forced to leave the area.
The TV noted that about 7,000 tons of grain on board the ship was destined for transport to the city of Konya in central Turkey. There are already trucks at the port that have arrived for the cargo, the TV channel reports.
Ownership of cargo
The question of the ownership of the cargo is being considered by the Turkish Ministries of Transport, Justice and Foreign Affairs. So far, there is no official announcement from these departments.
Earlier, as per Ria Novosti, the Kazakh national company Kazakhstan Temir Zholy (Kazakhstan Railways, KTZ) sent a request to the Russian lessee of the Zhibek Zholy dry cargo ship demanding to clarify the origin of the grain transported from Berdyansk to Turkey.
The company’s message indicated that the sale of cereals was concluded between the Estonian company Mangelbert OU and the Turkish side, and the seller, which is a company registered in Europe, declared the legality of the transaction. Prior to this, a number of media outlets reported on the export of grain from Ukraine through the Berdyansk commercial sea port on the Kazakh ship Zhibek Zholy.