KYIV — Ukraine has called on Turkey to detain a Russian-flagged cargo ship which it said had sailed from Berdyansk, a Russian-occupied port on the Sea of Azov, for Karasu, on Turkey’s Black Sea coast, loaded with Ukrainian grain.
The Zhibek Zholy is carrying 4,500 metric tons of grain that belongs to Ukraine, said Oleg Nikolenko, a spokesman for the Foreign Ministry in Kyiv. According to the Ukrainian prosecutor general’s office, the total cargo is 7,000 metric tons. Ukraine’s demand that Turkey detain the ship was first reported by Reuters.
Yevgeny Balatski, the pro-Moscow governor of Russian-occupied parts of the Zaporizhzhia region, announced on Thursday the departure of the first merchant ship from Berdyansk since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, without naming the vessel.
Shipping tracking data showed the vessel anchored off Karasu on Friday evening. So far, there has been no comment from Turkish authorities. The Ukrainian prosecutor general’s office called on Turkey to “conduct an inspection of this sea vessel, seize samples of grain for forensic examination, demand information on the location of such grain.”
An estimated 20 million metric tons of grain await export from Ukraine, blockaded by Russia’s control of Black Sea shipping lanes. World food prices have risen as a result, with poorer countries especially hard-hit. The world’s food supply “has quite literally been held hostage by the Russian military,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken told the United Nations in May.
Duplain reported from London.