London, Thursday 02 June 2022
Russia has admitted to stealing grain and steel cargoes from Ukraine and transporting them to Russian territory, validating Ukrainian theft claims.
The Russian troops just completed the clearance of sea mines from Mariupol, the devastated port city that succumbed to the invading force earlier this month. Russia has began resuming commercial traffic at the ports, beginning with the removal of Ukrainian steel items, in addition to the installation of mass graves on the city's outskirts.
A cargo of 2,700 tonnes of Ukrainian steel will be carried 100 miles from Mariupol to the Russian port of Rostov-on-Don, according to Russian state news agency TASS. The nearest producer, Mariupol's large Azovstal factory, was destroyed and seized following a months-long siege; no business transaction or payment for the cargo was stated.
Metinvest, the Ukrainian company that owns and operates Azovstal, claims that Russian forces are taking its goods from the port.
"Metallurgical items produced at Metinvest Group's Azovstal and Ilyich Steel iron and steel factories were in the port of Mariupol on the first day of the war," the company said. "These steel items may be exported by the occupiers to the ports of Rostov, Taganrog, Novorossiysk, Tuapse, and occupied Sevastopol for further illicit sale of the stolen products to nations in Africa and Asia that do not support the sanctions regimes" says the report.
"Looting continues in Ukraine's temporarily occupied territory," said Lyudmyla Denisova, Ukraine's human rights ombudsman. "After stealing Ukrainian grain, the occupants turned to Mariupol to export metal products."
Denisova said that Russian forces had taken civilian property in an occupied region, in violation of the Geneva Convention and the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.
Furthermore, a Russian-controlled Kherson collaborator acknowledged to Russian state media that Ukrainian grain "exports" to Russia are underway and will shortly include sunflower seeds.
"We have space to store [the new crop] despite the fact that we have a lot of grain here," Kirill Stremousov, a pro-Russian blogger who has been named deputy head of the occupying force's Military-Civilian Administration, stated. "People are now carrying [the grain] out in stages, after reaching an agreement with people who buy it from the Russian side."
Russia has been accused by Ukraine's government of stealing grain in large quantities, burning granaries, absconding with farm equipment, and obstructing the export of genuine food supplies.
"The Russian occupiers have already taken at least half a million tonnes of grain in our seized region and are now seeking for ways to unlawfully sell them," Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in a social media appeal on Monday.
(Source: The Maritime Executive // Edited by: The Decision Maker - Maritime editors)