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Turkey urged to detain Russian ship carrying Ukrainian grain

Turkey urged to detain Russian ship carrying Ukrainian grain
Ukraine suspects grain was loaded from a port seized by Russia

Kyiv has urged Turkey to detain a Russian-flagged cargo ship carrying grain mounted from a Ukrainian port seized by Russia.

Ukrainian foreign ministry officials believe that the 7,146 deadweight tonnage (DWT) Zhibek Zholy had loaded the cargo of some 4,500 tonnes of grain from Berdyansk, reported Reuters citing Ukraine’s foreign ministry officials.

Earlier in a letter dated 30 June, Ukraine’s prosecutor general’s office had written to Turkey’s justice ministry informing them about the “illegal export of Ukrainian grain” on its way from Berdyansk to Turkey’s Karasu.

The prosecutor general’s office also requested Turkey to “conduct an inspection of this sea vessel, seize samples of grain for forensic examination, demand information on the location of such grain” in the letter, as it offered a joint investigation with the Turkish authorities.

Yevhen Batytskyi, Russia’s newly appointed governor of the occupied territory of Zaporizhzhia took to Telegram to announce the departure of the ship from Berdyansk, on the Sea of Azov, reported BBC. He added that 7,000 tonnes of grain would be shared with “friendly” countries.

Ukraine’s ambassador to Turkey, Vasyl Bodnar, also pressed the country to take action against the ship.

“Based on the letter we received from [the Ukrainian prosecutor-general] we asked the Turkish side to take the relevant measures,” he tweeted on 1 July.

“We have good communication and intensive cooperation with the Turkish authorities. I am confident that the decisions to be taken will prevent attempts to violate Ukraine’s territorial integrity,” he added.

Meanwhile, Kremlin officials in Moscow did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Friday.

Though Ukraine in the past has accused Russia of stealing grain from its territory seized by Russian forces, Kremlin previously denied these allegations.

Turkey’s foreign ministry also did not immediately reply to a request for comment on the arrival of the Zhibek Zholy.

The ship’s owner, Kazakh-based KTZ Express said that though it belongs to the company, it was chartered by a Russian company under a bare-boat charter, meaning no crew or supplies were involved in the lease. The company added that it would abide by all sanctions and restrictions.

Additional reporting from the wires

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