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How Russia steals grain from Ukrainian farmers

This is the “Fedor”, a Russian cargo ship. The charge? Allegedly 9,000 tons of corn stolen from Ukraine. This delivery is not an isolated case.

News broadcast excerpts:
“Now Russia is being accused of grain theft.”
«Russian Forces stealing thousands of tons of Ukrainian Grain.»
«Confiscating grain stocks…»
“… to sell for its own profit.”

But how exactly does grain theft work?

We speak to a Ukrainian farmer from the occupied territory. And reconstruct how the “Fedor” turns off the tracking data to smuggle corn from occupied Crimea.

This is Viktor Naidyonov. He is a farmer from southern Ukraine. Here in one image video from before the war.

Wiktor Naidjonow: “We have great potential here, both technologically and agriculturally.”

His farm is in the Cherson region, which was captured by the Russian army.

Viktor Naidyonov: «On April 25, I was forcibly taken to the military commander’s office, where I was supposed to sign an agreement on cooperation with the Russian military administration. I refused. After that I received threats against my life, my family’s life. On the phone they threatened me with imprisonment and death.”

After the threatening phone calls, he fled the occupied territory with his family. The Russian occupiers are said to have confiscated his harvest.

Viktor Naidjonow: “We had 600 tons of soya and 200 tons of sunflower seeds in reserve, that was all gone. As far as I know it was brought to Crimea. (…) That means our harvest is exported.»

This is currently happening to many farmers in the occupied territory.

The BBC has Images from a surveillance camera published, which should show such a raid on a farm.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations estimates that by early July 700 000 tons grain were stolen.

The Kremlin denies these thefts.

Some of the stolen grain is transported by truck from the farms in the Russian advance area to the occupied Crimea.

In the social networks numerous such transports to the Crimea were documented.

Including trucks that are marked with a Z – the identification mark for Russian army vehicles.

show satellite images: kilometer long columns of trucks at the crossing to the Crimea. Including grain deliveries.

Many of these deliveries are destined for the port of Sevastopol. Namely for this grain terminal. The terminal is owned by the Russian United Shipbuilding Corporation.

The company is on the US sanctions list This is reported by the “Financial Times”.

Numerous ships have been loaded with grain here for several months – significantly more than before the war. The grain is mostly exported abroad.

Let’s take a closer look at one delivery: This is the «Fedor», a Russian cargo ship.

The ship leaves Italy in March. We know that thanks to ship tracking data. It travels through the Bosphorus to the Black Sea. But on March 23, the locating signal goes out.

On June 12, the ship appears in Sevastopol. This is evidenced by this photo taken by Mirotworez, an organization that documents grain exports from Crimea.

A comparison with the archive images shows: It is the «Fedor». Labels and other features match.

This satellite image from the same day provides the definitive proof: the loading chambers are being filled. The ship is said to have loaded 9000 tons of corn, more on that later.

The owner of the «Fedor» is the call trans group. To our questions about the origin of the delivery, she only replies that the applicable legal regulations are observed.

It is difficult to prove whether this cargo is stolen Ukrainian corn.

Because Russia systematically falsifies proofs of origin, a Ukrainian agricultural entrepreneur tells us:

Alexei Lisiza: «As far as I understand, the documents are issued as if the grain had been produced in Crimea. But that couldn’t be made in Crimea because there was no water there for the last eight years. This means that everything that is now being exported from Crimea is basically Ukrainian grain, the Ukrainian Ministry of Agriculture is now assuming that.”

Two days after loading, the «Fedor» switches the location data back on. The ship is already on the high seas again.

There is no trace of the stay in the Crimea in the location databases. This video shows the ship crossing the Bosphorus. It lies deep in the water and is clearly still loaded.

The “Fedor” heads for the port of Bandirma in Turkey.

These pictures prove: The corn from Sevastopol was unloaded in Turkey. Turkey has actually banned trade with Crimea since 2017.

“Ships that are found to come from the Crimea region and its ports will be refused entry into our country.”

The documents for the corn delivery of the “Fedor” indicate a different place of origin – not Crimea, Turkish grocer Yayla Agro told the Financial Times.

Yayla Agro bought the corn shipment. The company exports its products all over the world.

Back to Ukraine. The farmer who fled says that theft continues in the occupied territory.

Viktor Naidjonow: «The harvest is the basis of our livelihood, without it we cannot continue. Still, somehow I want to return to my farm. I have hope in our army!”

Since the beginning of the war, World Wheat Prize increased massively. There is a risk of famine in poorer countries. Russia uses the high demand. And fills with that export of grain his war chest. Including stolen grain from Ukrainian farms.


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