Cargo ship carrying grain from Russian-occupied region of Ukraine detained by Turkey

A cargo ship carrying grain from a Russian-occupied region of Ukraine has been detained by Turkish customs authorities, according to Ukraine’s ambassador to Turkey.

Vasyl Bodnar says “We have full co-operation. The ship is currently standing at the entrance to the port, it has been detained by the customs authorities of Turkey”.

We’ve tracked the Russian-flagged ship, the Zhibek Zholy, on its route from the Ukrainian port of Berdyansk, to Karasu on the Turkish Black Sea coast.

It is not clear where its cargo came from or how it was obtained, but Russia has been accused of stealing grain from areas of Ukraine it controls.

Berdyansk is in Ukraine’s southern Zaporizhzhia region, on the Sea of Azov.

News of the ship’s departure from Berdyansk was announced on social media app Telegram by Yevhen Balytskyi, who was recently appointed by Russia as governor of the occupied areas of Zaporizhzhia.

Mr Balytskyi said 7,000 tonnes of grain would be sent to “friendly” countries.

He added that ships from Russia’s Black Sea Fleet would be “ensuring the security” of the journey, and that the port had been cleared of sea mines.

It’s not clear whether the ship intends to unload its cargo in the Turkish port of Karasu or continue its journey south through the Bosphorus Strait to an, as yet, unknown destination.

The registered owner of the Zhibek Zholy, a Kazakh-based company called KTZ Express, has told the Reuters news agency that the ship has been chartered by a Russian company. It added that it was consulting the parties involved and would abide by all sanctions and restrictions.