Grains docked in Lebanon not stolen from Ukraine, says import official
Moscow denies Ukrainian allegations that it stole grain from its eastern European neighbor
An official at a Turkey-based grains trading company on Friday denied reports that tons of barley and flour aboard a ship docked in a Lebanese port were stolen from Ukraine, saying the source was Russia.
The official at Loyal Agro Co LTD, on the condition of anonymity, told Reuters that the company sought to import 5,000 tons of flour to Lebanon to sell to private buyers, not to the state.
Ukraine’s embassy in Lebanon previously told Reuters that a US-sanctioned Syrian ship docked in the northern Lebanese port of Tripoli carrying “barley and 5,000 tons of flour that we suspect was taken from Ukrainian stores" by Russia.
The Russian embassy said it had “no information regarding the Syrian vessel or a cargo brought to Lebanon by a private company.”
Moscow in the past denied Ukrainian allegations that it stole grain from its eastern European neighbor.
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Lebanon’s Foreign Minister Abdallah Bou Habib said he received “a number of protests and warnings” from Western nations following the arrival of the ship.
According to the company official, Lebanese customs did not grant an import license as officers were investigating assertions that Russia stole the flour after its invasion of Ukraine.
The official noted that the cargo – some 8,000 tons of flour and 1,700 tons of barley – was initially destined for Syria, but the company decided to offload 5,000 tons of flour in Lebanon amid bread shortages there.
Bakeries in Lebanon were inundated earlier this week by frustrated crowds in a country facing a three-year economic crisis and where about half the population is food insecure, according to the World Food Program.