G7 to combat theft of Ukrainian grain with science

The Group of Seven (G7) rich nations are working on a scheme to combat the suspected theft of Ukraine's grain by using chemical identification of grain origin, UK food and farming minister Mark Spencer said on Monday, Reuters reports.

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The UK is leading on the scheme, and that G7 countries were also working closely with Ukraine, the world's fourth largest grains exporter, Mr Spencer told an International Grains Council conference in London.

"We believe (chemical identification) will be an effective means for deterring further theft of Ukraine's grain," he said.

Since Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine last February, it has stolen nearly four million tonnes of Ukrainian grain, according to the Ukrainian Grain Association (UGA).

Some of the grain has been sold, mostly to countries under sanctions like Russia, but it is becoming increasingly difficult for Moscow to do so.

The UK announced a new wave of sanctions last month on Russia over its war against Ukraine, targeting "shady individuals and entities" connected to the suspected theft of Ukrainian grain.

Targeting entities involved in grain trading is unusual as such activity typically comes under humanitarian exemptions from sanctions, Reuters notes.

Both Russia and Ukraine are major grain exporters to developing countries in Africa and the Middle East.