As the conflict in Eastern Europe enters its fourth month, Russia continues its rampant theft of Ukrainian grain harvests, with recent satellite images showing Russian ships loading stolen Ukrainian grain from the Crimean port of Sevastopol.
The images released by Maxar Technologies, dated May 19 and May 21, show Russian bulk carrier ships, the Matros Pozynich and the Matros Koshka, docked next to what appears to be grain silos with grain being poured of a belt into the ship. The images very clearly highlight the details of the ship and the port, CNN reported.
According to the ship tracking site MarineTraffic.com, both ships left the port with the Matros Koshka remaining in the Black Sea and the Matros Pozynich on its way to Beirut.
Maxar technologies had released similar images of the Matros Pozynich, earlier this month, executing the same mission of loading grain and setting sail into the Mediterranean. The ship docked in Syria, a close ally of Russia, with trucks awaiting the unloading of Ukrainian grain.
Initially, en route to Egypt, the ship was turned away after being warned from Ukrainian officials
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has previously accused Russia of "gradually stealing" the country's food products in an attempt to sell them. Ukrainian officials and industry sources also told CNN that Russian forces in the occupied areas have stolen from a number of silos and supplied it to countries in the Middle East.
"The world community must help Ukraine unblock seaports, otherwise the energy crisis will be followed by a food crisis and many more countries will face it," Zelensky said on Saturday, also revealing that almost all of Ukraine's sea routes have been blocked by Russia, which has negatively impacted the country's "maritime opportunities" to export food. The country that once produced about a fifth of the world's high-grade wheat is now starving.
It is, however, difficult to ascertain whether the ships were loaded with stolen Ukrainian grain, because Crimea's grain production is not as strong as that of the agriculturally rich regions of Kherson, which Russia occupied on March 2, and Zaporizhzhia located in south-eastern Ukraine.
With the fighting intensifying and the food shortage triggering a global crisis, the United States and its allies are expected to discuss ways in which grain transport from Ukraine can be carried on, CNN reported last week. The continuing theft of Ukrainian grain by Russia only seems to further complicate these moves.