UN comments on grain stealing allegations
The UN is unable to verify accusations made by Kiev that Moscow is “stealing” and exporting Ukrainian grain, Stephane Dujarric, the spokesman for the UN Secretary-General, has said.
Asked about the claims during a news briefing on Tuesday, Dujarric said that neither the UN Secretary-General’s office nor the UN World Food Programme (WFP) had any credible information on the matter.
“We’ve seen recent media reports, we’re talking to our colleagues at WFP. They have no way of verifying these allegations. I think WFP, as we all have, has been advocating for a free movement of food from the Black Sea to ensure that the needs of people around the world are met,” he said.
Ukraine has repeatedly accused Moscow of “stealing” its stockpiles of wheat amid the ongoing conflict, most recently, by the Ambassador of Ukraine to Turkey, Vasyl Bodnar.
“Russia shamelessly steals Ukrainian grain and sends it overseas from Crimea, including to Turkey,” Bodnar said on Friday, adding that Kiev has asked Ankara to “help resolve the issue.”
Ukraine and Western states alike have repeatedly accused Moscow of impeding grain exports by blocking Ukraine’s Black Sea ports, namely the major trade hub of Odessa. Russia, however, has rejected such claims, maintaining it was ready to ensure safe passage for grain-carrying vessels from the ports. Moscow insists disruption of grain flow stems from Kiev’s policy and extensive mining of the shoreline by the Ukrainian military.
Russia attacked the neighboring state following Ukraine’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements, first signed in 2014, and Moscow’s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. The German- and French-brokered protocols were designed to give the breakaway regions special status within the Ukrainian state.
The Kremlin has since demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join the US-led NATO military bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked and has denied claims it was planning to retake the two republics by force.