Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said on Thursday that Ankara was investigating claims that Ukrainian grain has been stolen by Russia and shipped to countries including Turkey, but added that the probes had not found any stolen shipments so far, according to Reuters.
Kyiv’s ambassador to Turkey said in early June that Turkish buyers were among those receiving grain that Russia had stolen from Ukraine, adding he had sought Turkey’s help in identifying and apprehending people responsible for the alleged shipments.
Russia has previously denied allegations that it has stolen Ukrainian grain. The Kremlin reiterated its claim on Thursday that it has not stolen any grain.
Speaking at a news conference with British Foreign Minister Liz Truss in Ankara, Çavuşoğlu appeared to deny Ukraine’s claims of stolen grain shipments arriving in Turkey, saying Ankara had not yet seen any such cases and it had notified Kyiv of every investigation’s outcome.
“We took each claim seriously and carried out investigations based on these claims. We saw that the ships’ port of departure and the origin of the goods is Russia on the records, based on the investigations we made after claims were made about Turkey,” he said.
“We are against Ukrainian grain or other goods being taken by Russia or any other nation and then illegitimately, illegally being sold to international markets, and we, as Turkey, will not allow these goods to come to us,” Çavuşoğlu added.
The Ukrainian foreign ministry did not immediately comment on the matter.
Kyiv has criticized Turkey’s reluctance to impose sanctions on Russia since Moscow’s Feb. 24 invasion, but has also thanked Ankara for its diplomatic and military support to end the war, including hosting officials from both sides for peace talks.
Russia and Ukraine account for nearly a third of global wheat supplies, while Russia also exports fertilizer and Ukraine corn and sunflower oil. But Ukrainian grain shipments from its Black Sea ports have stalled since Russia invaded, with some 20 million tons of grain stuck.
The UN has appealed to both countries, as well as maritime neighbor Turkey, to create a sea corridor for Ukrainian grains to be exported from the Black Sea. Ankara, which has backed the UN-led plan, has held talks with Moscow and the UN, but says all sides need to meet for a final agreement.