”Skhemy”: Russia exports Ukrainian grain to Syria and its “hungry” regions

Kostia Andreikovets

The occupiers are exporting grain from the occupied territories of Ukraine to Syria, which has become the "agrarian hub" for the looted goods, and to Russia.

Journalists of the "Skhemy" Ukrainian investigative project showed the scale and ways in which grain is exported from Ukraine.

Grain is exported from the occupied territories of Kherson, Donetsk, Luhansk, and Zaporizhzhia Oblasts. In May and early June alone, the occupiers stole more than 180,000 tons of grain. President Volodymyr Zelensky said that "the occupiers have already stolen at least half a million tons".

Grain is forcibly taken from Russian troops by farmers — sometimes forcing them to sign contracts under which the occupiers demand 70% of the products. Then the grain is sent by truck to the occupied Crimea and through the Rostov Oblast to Russia to regions such as Krasnoyarsk, where local authorities are ready to officially accept the stolen goods.

The main direction of stolen goods is via Crimea. The flow of trucks has increased significantly on the peninsula. Planet Labs satellites recorded huge queues of trucks near the Armyansk and Chongar checkpoints. Grain is transported to ports such as the Avlita terminal. Then it is loaded on ships.

The Russians wanted to sell Ukrainian grain to North Africa. Egypt and Lebanon refused to buy it, but Russiaʼs ally Syria is willing to accept what was stolen. This country supports the aggressor and is a "gray zone".

Journalists found that the grain was transported by the following ships: Moryak Pozynych, Syrian bulk carrier Finikia, Moriak Koshka, Mikhail Nenashev, and the Syrian ship Souria.

  • As Russia blocks Ukrainian ports, 23.5 million tons of grain and oilseeds remain in Ukraine. Ukraine has already started supplying grain to the world market by truck, rail, and river.
  • On June 8, talks took place between Turkish and Russian Foreign Ministers Mevlut Cavusoglu and Sergey Lavrov. They spoke, in particular, about the war in Ukraine and the unblocking of Ukrainian ports. Currently, Russia is demanding the demining of Ukrainian ports, and Ankara considers a realistic plan to create a "grain" corridor. There were no representatives of Ukraine at these talks.
  • The issue of the humanitarian corridor for the export of Ukrainian agricultural products is also being discussed at the UN and Ukraineʼs western partners. Next yearʼs harvest in Ukraine could be reduced by 40%.
  • The United States has already announced that it will build granaries on the Ukrainian border. Meanwhile, the Ukrainian side has established routes through Poland and Romania for grain exports, and has a plan B in case of further blockade of seaports.