Friday, September 1, 2023

Ukraine Urges Lebanon to Block Syrian Ship with ‘Stolen’ Corn


Ukraine Urges Lebanon to Block Syrian Ship Carrying Allegedly Stolen Ukrainian Grain

In a recent development, Ukrainian officials have requested Lebanon to prevent a Syrian state-owned cargo ship, named Finikia, from docking at Tripoli port. The ship is said to be carrying 6,000 metric tons of corn, which Ukraine claims to be stolen from its storage units in the Zaporizhzhia, Mykolaiv, and Kherson regions. The Ukrainian embassy, in a diplomatic note to Lebanon’s ministries of transport, finance, and economy, as well as the customs directorate, expressed its concern over the violation of international law and urged Lebanon to deny entry to the Finikia.

The Ukrainian embassy has labeled the cargo as stolen Ukrainian grain and hopes that Lebanon will take appropriate action to prevent the sale of this allegedly stolen commodity. However, there has been no immediate response from Lebanon’s ministers of transportation and finance regarding this matter. Similarly, the Syrian government and the Syrian General Authority for Maritime Transport, which owns the Finikia, have not yet responded to the written questions presented to them.

Lebanon’s economy minister stated that he had not received a formal note regarding this issue but acknowledged that the embassy had sent similar notes in the past. It is worth noting that Moscow has previously denied any involvement in stealing Ukraine’s grain.

As per MarineTraffic and a source at the Tripoli port, the Finikia has not yet docked at the port. This incident follows a similar case from last year when another Syrian-flagged ship called Laodicea arrived in Beirut carrying what Ukraine claimed to be 10,000 metric tons of stolen flour and barley. Although Lebanon initially seized the ship, it eventually allowed it to leave and sail on to Syria. Both the Finikia and Laodicea are owned by the Syrian General Authority for Maritime Transport, which has been under US sanctions since 2015 due to its alleged role in Syria’s war.

Ukraine estimates that approximately 500,000 metric tons of what it refers to as plundered Ukrainian grain has been transported to Syria since the invasion in February 2022. These shipments were made from various ports, and it is important to note that a previous agreement allowing the safe export of Ukraine’s grain from the Black Sea expired in July.

This incident highlights the ongoing concerns regarding the theft and illegal transportation of Ukrainian grain. Ukraine has been actively seeking international cooperation to address this issue and prevent the sale of stolen commodities. The country’s efforts to raise awareness and seek assistance from other nations demonstrate its commitment to protecting its agricultural resources and ensuring fair trade practices.

The request made by Ukraine to Lebanon reflects the urgency and seriousness of the situation. By urging Lebanon to deny entry to the Finikia, Ukraine aims to prevent the further loss of its grain and send a strong message against illegal activities in the international trade market. It remains to be seen how Lebanon will respond to this request and whether it will take appropriate action to address Ukraine’s concerns.

In conclusion, Ukraine’s call for Lebanon to block the Syrian cargo ship carrying allegedly stolen Ukrainian grain sheds light on the ongoing issue of grain theft and illegal transportation. This incident underscores the need for international cooperation and stricter measures to combat such activities. Ukraine’s efforts to protect its agricultural resources and ensure fair trade practices should be supported by the international community to prevent further losses and promote transparency in global trade.

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