Russia uses ports in annexed Crimea and Türkiye to illegally export thousands of tons of sunflower seeds stolen in the occupied territories of southern Ukraine, according to the investigation by OSINT analysts, Texty reported.
After the Russian army occupied the fertile lands of Kherson and Zaporizhzhia Oblasts in southern Ukraine in 2022, Russia began to export Ukrainian grain and other agricultural products massively and illegally sell stolen Ukrainian products abroad using cargo ships flying the flags of different countries.
The OSINT analysts from the KibOrg project, in cooperation with SeaKrime, have published an investigation into how Russia is exporting Ukrainian sunflower seeds from the port of Feodosia in occupied Crimea (southern Ukraine).
According to the investigation, the Gam Express vessel entered the occupied Crimea after a four-year break in December 2023, loading 2850.95 tons of sunflower seeds in occupied Feodosia (Crimea).
Investigators found that from 2017 to 2019, this vessel had already made illegal calls to the closed ports of the occupied Crimea under the names Lady Eman, Narsis, and Haje Amira under the flags of Tanzania, Togo, and Lebanon.
Gam Express turned off the AIS transponder, which allowed tracking its route, on 12 December 2023, according to the MarineTraffic platform. The vessel entered the occupied Feodosia between 12 and 18 December 2023. It left the port of Feodosia on the evening of 10 January after the vessel was loaded with cargo.
On 10 January 2024, a phytosanitary certificate No. 792236306100124002 was issued for a consignment of sunflower seeds on the Gam Express vessel. The document was signed by Olga Glazkritskaya (Stepanenko), an official responsible for the Feodosia customs post, whose data is given here.
According to the document, the shipment of sunflower seeds was registered for Türkiye, the port of Samsun. The contract for the consignment of sunflower seeds was signed between Agrogroup and a Turkish company, namely Trans World Agro Tarim Ihracat Ithalact Limited Şirketi.
On behalf of the seller, the documents were signed by the founder of Agrogroup, Dmitry Cherkesov, and on behalf of the buyer, by the director of the Turkish company, a citizen of Ukraine, Leonid Pashkovskyi.
On 12 January 2024, the Gam Express vessel with sunflower seeds from the Russian-occupied territory of the Zaporizhzhia Oblast (southeastern Ukraine) arrived at the Turkish port of Samsun for unloading.
NASA Harvest revealed approximately 6.4 million tons of wheat and nearly 1.5 million tons of sunflower seeds were harvested in Russian-occupied Ukrainian territories in 2023.
Since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, Russia stole millions of tons of Ukrainian grain, causing direct losses of nearly $9 billion to the Ukrainian agricultural sector and indirect losses of $31.5 billion.
The extensive theft included the seizure of farms and larger agricultural entities, impacting a sector that constituted approximately 10% of Ukraine’s GDP, per the World Bank’s 2021 estimate. Previously a leading global wheat, barley, and corn exporter, Ukraine faced significant disruption.
Deliberate and systematic grain theft by Russian forces has severely disrupted Ukrainian grain exports, contributing to soaring global commodity prices and a broader food crisis. In response, the US imposed sanctions on Russian corporations and individuals involved in the illicit seizure and transfer of Ukrainian grain.