Russia stole almost 6 million tonnes of Ukrainian grain last year, US intelligence says

Russia stole nearly 6 million tons of Ukrainian wheat harvested from occupied territories in 2022, according to a US intelligence report declassified on Wednesday, citing satellite imagery and open-source reporting.

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The cargo ships used by Russia to transport the stolen grain steered along the coast of Turkiye, delivering shipments to ports in Syria, Israel, Iran, Georgia, and Lebanon.

"We cannot confirm if the buyers of the Russian cargoes were aware of the grains’ Ukrainian origin," the eight-page report reads.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine caused "deep disruptions" in the global food supply, the US intelligence said, raising prices and increasing the risk of food insecurity in poorer nations in the Middle East and North Africa.

The report noted that the direct and indirect effects of the war in Ukraine had been the major drivers of "one of the most disruptive periods in decades for global food security," in large part because Ukraine and Russia were among the world’s largest pre-war exporters of grain and other agricultural products.

While the report says that food security concerns have decreased since the start of this year, global food prices are likely to be affected by Russia’s pulling out of the ‘grain deal’, which allowed Ukraine to ship millions of tonnes of its agricultural products safely via Black Sea ports.

US intelligence has previously blamed Russia of using food supplies as a weapon by blocking Ukrainian exports, destroying infrastructure, and occupying agricultural land in Ukraine.

According to the Ukrainian Grain Association, since the start of the full-scale invasion last February, Russia has stolen more than 4 million tonnes of Ukrainian grain and is trying to sell it abroad.