- Stolen Ukrainian grains on Russian-flagged ships are likely headed to Syria, Kyiv said.
- Ukraine predicted the grain will then be distributed to the broader Middle East.
- Egypt has already turned away two Russian vessels this week carrying Ukraine's wheat.
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Russian-flagged ships carrying stolen Ukrainian grains are likely headed to Syria before the cargoes then move on to other destinations in the Middle East, the government in Kyiv said.
In social media posts, Ministry of Defence intelligence officials also said Russia is moving seeds and grain to Crimea, which is the Ukrainian territory annexed by the Kremlin in 2014.
Egypt in the past week has already turned away two Russian vessels with stolen Ukrainian wheat, Ukraine's chargé d'affaires in Egypt told The Wall Street Journal.
The moves mark an escalation in Russia's campaign to cripple vital sectors of Ukraine's economy. Russia has blockaded Black Sea ports, a crucial avenue for Ukraine to import agricultural supplies and to export its farm products. Ukraine exported $28 billion worth of food in 2021, and the sector makes up 10% of Kyiv's total gross domestic product.
The European Union took steps on Tuesday to help redirect Ukrainian exports by land to skirt the Russian blockade, according to Bloomberg.
But only so much can be transported by rail, for example, limiting potential food exports to 1.1 million tons of grain per month, which is far below the 25 million tons that Ukraine needs to release.