Russian diplomats acknowledged Wednesday that Turkish authorities are searching a Russian-flagged cargo ship for what Kiev says is Ukrainian grain stolen by the Russians. Moscow says there is no room for talk of seizing the ship.
“The ship (Zhibek Zholu) is currently in port in the port of Karasu. Standard procedures, including health checks, are underway,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexei Zaitsev said. Karasu is a Turkish port on the Black Sea.
“In the end, the Turkish authorities will approve or deny (the ship) entry into the port, there is no question of detaining or confiscating the cargo,” he said during a press conference, according to AFP, taken by Agerpres.
Ukraine, which accuses Russia of stealing its wheat crop, says Zhibek Zholu, a cargo ship that left the Russian-occupied Ukrainian port of Berdyansk last Thursday with a cargo of 7,000 tons of illegally obtained grain.
Ukraine’s embassy in Ankara on Friday called on Turkey to detain the Russian ship.
A Turkish diplomatic source told AFP on Tuesday that an “investigation” into the cargo ship was underway.
Despite pressure from Ukraine, Turkey, a member of NATO, remains discreet about its intentions.
Turkey is considered an ally of Ukraine, supplying it with combat drones, but has been careful to maintain a neutral position against Russia, which it mainly depends on for gas supplies.
A recent investigation by a group of Ukrainian investigative journalists concluded that Russia allegedly exported to Turkey grain stolen from territories occupied by Ukraine during the invasion, AFP reported on Tuesday, citing Ukrainian publication Ukrainska Pravda.
“Evil gamer. Amateur music trailblazer. Alcohol geek. Problem solver. Coffee advocate. Troublemaker. Infuriatingly humble zombieaholic.”