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With this ruse, Russia smuggles Ukrainian grain across the Bosphorus

Russian ships are reportedly smuggling stolen Ukrainian grain by sea on a massive scale to sell abroad.

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With this ruse, Russia smuggles Ukrainian grain across the Bosphorus

Russian ships are reportedly smuggling stolen Ukrainian grain by sea on a massive scale to sell abroad. The transporters cover their tracks at great expense, reports the “Wall Street Journal” (WSJ). In fact, Russian exporters are not allowed to ship grain from Ukraine.

The US business newspaper presented satellite images on Thursday that are intended to prove the procedure: According to this, small transport ships regularly sail from the port of Sevastopol on the occupied Crimean peninsula to large freighters waiting at sea to reload Ukrainian grain.

The grain is mixed with Russian goods in order to further disguise the origin. Purpose of the operation: A stopover of the freighters in Ukrainian ports is not recorded. This is apparently intended to cover up the smuggling.

“This is grain laundering,” the WSJ quotes an Istanbul expert alluding to the term money laundering. "They make it hard to trace lineage."

The newspaper shows satellite images of a freighter and a supply ship lying side by side for seven hours. Rye from the Ukraine is to be reloaded. The freighter then drove across the Bosphorus. Where the grain was finally unloaded is unclear.

According to earlier research by the US media AP and PBC, grain worth half a billion dollars was stolen from Ukraine by the end of September. The goods are brought overland from the silos to the Crimea by truck convoys. There is no official confirmation for this. However, the export of grain from the port of Sevastopol has increased significantly: from April to September, exports were 662,000 tons - after 36,000 tons in the previous year.

In recent months there have been numerous reports that Russia is stealing grain from Ukraine. The occupiers are said to have paid the producers well below the market price. However, Russia has now annexed large parts of the occupied territories in violation of international law, so it considers them part of Russia.

The Russian Minister of Agriculture, Dimitri Patrushev, has already publicly announced that the increase in his country's territory could increase his country's harvest by at least five million tons of grain annually - an increase of around four percent.

However, since the territorial gains are not recognized internationally, Russia has so far not been allowed to deliver the Ukrainian grain across the Bosphorus.

The Russian entrepreneur Peter Khodykin, who controls the largest Russian agricultural logistics company RIF, is behind the smuggling by sea, writes the WSJ. RIF denied this to the newspaper. RIF initially left a request from WELT unanswered.

The grain deal with Ukraine and Russia, brokered by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, allows both countries to ship grain across the Black Sea despite the war.

The goods are checked as they pass through the Bosphorus to prevent smuggling of weapons. Russia has repeatedly threatened to withdraw from the agreement. However, it was extended by three months in November.

As a result of the agreement concluded in July, the world market price for grain has fallen significantly. Fears from the first weeks of the war that the conflict would trigger famine in many countries have since been subdued.

The spokesman for the Berlin office of the World Food Program, Martin Rentsch, emphasized that despite possible complications, it is important to keep the Bosphorus route open. "For us, this is a lifeline for humanitarian grain transports," he told WELT.

The grain deal allows the UN's emergency aid program to receive grain from Ukraine. In addition, the commercial exports of grain and fertilizer from both countries also contribute to dampening the world market price and thus avoiding hunger.

The fact that Russia itself exports heavily also contributes to this. However, Moscow recently demanded that state financial institutions regain access to the Swift banking system.

Russia itself reported a record harvest of a good 126 million tons for the current year. According to the Moscow business newspaper Kommersant, business for grain traders is therefore more profitable than it has been for a long time. According to the report, several Russian agricultural companies want to expand the business area.

"Everything on shares" is the daily stock exchange shot from the WELT business editorial team. Every morning from 7 a.m. with our financial journalists. For stock market experts and beginners. Subscribe to the podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcast, Amazon Music and Deezer. Or directly via RSS feed.

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