Syrian ship with ‘stolen’ Ukrainian grain docks in Lebanon


The Ukrainian embassy in Beirut says a cargo ship carrying stolen barley docked in the port of Tripoli on Thursday.

A Syrian cargo ship, sanctioned by the United States and carrying what Ukraine says is barley stolen from the country, has docked in Lebanon, Ukraine’s diplomatic mission in the Middle East has said.

The cargo ship Laodicea docked in the port of Tripoli, Lebanon’s second-largest city, on Thursday, the Ukrainian embassy in Beirut said.

The embassy told Reuters news agency it suspected the ship was carrying 5,000 tons of barley and 5,000 tons of flour.

The US Treasury Department sanctioned Laodicea in 2015 for its links to the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad.

Ukraine has accused Russia of looting grain and steel from its territory since Moscow invaded the country in late February in what Russia calls a “special military operation.” The embassy in Beirut did not elaborate or say how the barley was allegedly stolen from Ukraine.

Marine Traffic, which monitors shipping traffic and the location of ships at sea, also confirmed on Thursday that the ships will dock in Tripoli.

The Laodicea was initially en route to the port of Tartus in Syria and was due to arrive there earlier this week.

It was unknown why it had been diverted to Lebanon or whether it was unloading the cargo here.

Earlier on Thursday, Ukrainian Ambassador Ihor Ostash met with Lebanese President Michel Aoun and warned the Lebanese leader that buying stolen goods from Russia “would damage bilateral ties,” the embassy statement said.

Kiev had previously praised Lebanon for condemning Russia for its war against Ukraine.

Ukraine has pledged to export wheat to Lebanon, which is currently experiencing a crippling food security and economic crisis.

Lebanese Economy Minister Amin Salam told Reuters the country’s customs and agriculture ministry were following up on the matter.

Salam had said earlier on Thursday that Lebanon’s severe bread shortages would be alleviated this week by new wheat imports, but did not say where they came from.

A customs officer and a shipping source told Reuters that the port of Tripoli had not unloaded the ship due to suspicions it was carrying stolen goods.

“Nothing was taken off the ship – as soon as we got the information, we stopped everything,” the customs officer said.

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