A Russian ship reportedly carrying tens of thousands of tonnes of stolen Ukrainian grain arrived in Syria last week, satellite images have shown.
Provided by the US-based company Maxar Technologies, the satellite images show the Russian ship – named “Matros Pozynich” – at the Syrian port of Latakia on 27 May. According to media reports, that ship is one of three vessels that have been loading grain at the port of Sevastopol in Crimea since the launch of the Russian invaded Ukraine three months ago.
After loading the grain, the “Matros Pozynich” reportedly travelled down through the Bosporus Strait and along Turkiye’s southern coast before reaching Latakia, while carrying around 30,000 tonnes of grain allegedly stolen from Ukraine. This trip was, according to CNN, the ship’s second to Syria within the past four weeks.
Throughout the past three months of Russia’s military offensive in Ukraine and the occupation of much of the country’s eastern and southern territories, Russian forces are reported to have taken advantage of the region’s harvesting season by seizing grain – around 400,000 tonnes, according to the Ukrainian government – from farms and silos to be exported out of the country.
If the Russian ship was indeed transporting the grain to Syria and unloading it there, it would come as no surprise due to Moscow’s provision of supplies such as wheat to the Syrian regime of Bashar Al-Assad over the years.
The transport of stolen grain, however, comes amid the shortages of food and essentials – especially in global wheat shortages – that the world’s supply chains are currently dealing with. Such shortages, brought about the Covid-19 pandemic and the shutdown of supply chains, have been exacerbated by the war between Russia and Ukraine – two countries which together supply around 30 per cent of the world’s wheat supply.