Russia loots, exports grain harvests in occupied cities, says Ukraine
Kyiv, May 25 (EFE).- Ukraine accused Russian forces on Wednesday of looting grain harvests from occupied cities and transporting stolen produce in trucks to Russia via the Moscow-annexed Crimean peninsula.
A convoy of trucks with stolen grain from the Ascet shipping company was spotted on the Melitopol highway near Zaporizhzhia and Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014, Ukraine’s Commissioner for Human Rights Liudmyla Denisova was quoted as saying by Ukrinform.
The senior official added that the shipping company had previously refused to cooperate with Russian forces to move material, although this time it seemed workers were moving produce.
According to Denisova, Berdyansk residents witnessed over 30 trucks with trailers loaded with grain near the Azovkabel industrial plant.
Russian forces are also trying to secure food stocks from the occupied port in Mariupol, on the Sea of Azov, and are funneling goods out of the southern city by rail, she added.
The human rights commissioner said Moscow had launched the urgent repair of the railway line in the region to streamline the operation.
She also reported that Russia was using the ports of Crimea and the coastal city of Sevastopol to export looted Ukrainian grain to its key trade partners.
The Russian flagged Matros Pozynich vessel, which transported plundered grain to Syria, has returned to the Black Sea and was reloaded at the port of Crimea and instructed to sail to Beirut, Denisova continued.
The commissioner stressed that the theft of food from occupied territories was a violation of the 1949 Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War and a war crime under Article 8 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.
Ukrainian authorities and other Western countries have warned that Russia is blocking the export of products, particularly grains, from Ukraine via the Black Sea, which could cause a global food shortage crisis.
Ukraine’s Ministry of Agrarian Policy reported in early May that Russian forces had stolen between 400,000 and 500,000 tons of grain worth over $100 million.
Almost all ships loaded with grain leaving Sevastopol carry stolen Ukrainian products, according to the ministry. EFE