Stolen Ukrainian grain was smuggled via Russian ships from Crimea to Syria

The Ukrainian Defense Ministry predicted that grain transported to Syria by Russia will also be smuggled to other Middle Eastern countries.

 Grain is placed on Ukrainian and Russian flags in this picture illustration taken May 9, 2022.  (photo credit: REUTERS/DADO RUVIC/ILLUSTRATION)
Grain is placed on Ukrainian and Russian flags in this picture illustration taken May 9, 2022.
(photo credit: REUTERS/DADO RUVIC/ILLUSTRATION)

Grain stolen from Ukraine is being transported via Russian cargo ships to Syria, the Ukrainian Defense Ministry's main intelligence directorate announced on Tuesday.

The ministry said that grain and sunflower seeds are being prepared for transportation to Russia as well from the Zaporizhzhia Oblast. Many grain trucks have also been sent to the Russian border. In the Kherson Oblast in southern Ukraine, 1,500 tons of grain were exported to Crimea.

Some of the stolen Ukrainian grain was captured on satellite images, CNN reported two days later. One merchant ship, the Matros Pozynich, sent by Russia with the stolen grain, was turned away from one Mediterranean port and is in the Syrian port of Latakia as of Thursday, the report stated citing Ukrainian officials. 

The vessel had set sail in late April, with its transponder turned off. The Matros Pozynich is one of three ships involved in the smuggling of stolen Ukrainian grain.

In addition to grain, Russians also exported cabbages and potatoes from Ukraine.

 People walk their bikes across the street as smoke rises above a plant of Azovstal Iron and Steel Works during Ukraine-Russia conflict in the southern port city of Mariupol, Ukraine May 2, 2022.  (credit: REUTERS/ALEXANDER ERMOCHENKO) People walk their bikes across the street as smoke rises above a plant of Azovstal Iron and Steel Works during Ukraine-Russia conflict in the southern port city of Mariupol, Ukraine May 2, 2022. (credit: REUTERS/ALEXANDER ERMOCHENKO)

The Ukrainian Defense Ministry predicted that grain transported to Syria by Russia will also be smuggled to other Middle Eastern countries. 

The war in Ukraine has sent global prices for grain, cooking oils, fuel and fertilizer soaring, with United Nations agencies warning that the price hikes will worsen a food crisis in Africa.

Reuters contributed to this report.