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Kiev says Turkey detained Russian ship carrying Ukrainian grain

The file photo shows Russia’s Zhibek Zholy cargo ship, which Ukrainian officials say has been detained by Turkish customs authorities while carrying Ukrainian grain.

Ukraine says Turkey has detained a Russian cargo ship carrying Ukrainian grain taken from the Russian-seized port of Berdyansk, more than four months into Moscow’s military operation in the ex-Soviet country.

On Sunday, Ukraine’s Ambassador to Turkey Vasyl Bodnar appeared on Ukrainian national television and announced that Russian-flagged Zhibek Zholy cargo ship was impounded by Turkish customs authorities.

“We have full co-operation. The ship is currently standing at the entrance to the port, it has been detained by the customs authorities of Turkey,” he said.

The referred port is Turkey’s Black Sea port of Karasu, Reuters said, which on Friday reported that Kiev had requested Ankara to detain the cargo ship. At the time, the news agency cited a Ukrainian Foreign Ministry official as saying that the vessel had loaded the first cargo of some 4,500 tons of grain from Berdyansk.

Bodnar said Zhibek Zholy’s fate would be decided by a meeting of investigators on Monday and that Kiev was hoping for the confiscation of the grain.

Ankara and Moscow have not yet commented on the matter.

Ukraine claims Russia is stealing its grain from seized Ukrainian territories. Moscow has previously denied that Russia has stolen any Ukrainian grain.

Turkey, a NATO member state, shares a sea border with both Russia and Ukraine in the Black Sea. Ankara has offered its services to accompany maritime convoys from Ukrainian ports.

Ukraine, one of the world's biggest exporters of grain, has not been able to export the commodity since the onset of the conflict in the country in late February. Kiev and the West accuse Russia of creating the risk of global famine by shutting Ukraine's Black Sea ports.

The West has also accused Russia of blocking Ukrainian grain exports from the Black Sea.

Russia, however, says no action was required on the Russian side because it had already made the necessary commitments to solve the problem.

Moscow has also denied responsibility for the international food crisis, blaming Western sanctions.

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