Turkey is investigating allegations by Ukraine that importers have been buying “stolen” grain.

Turkish foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told reporters a probe has begun, but no evidence of such shipments has yet been uncovered.

Ukraine has identified four Russian vessels and a Syrian ship as involved in the trade, while Russia blockades Ukrainian ports and a grain mountain of more than 20m tonnes builds in warehouses.

Two are bulkers, two are multipurpose units and one is a general cargo ship.

Ukraine also said Russia had sent its ally Syria about 100,000 tonnes of stolen wheat. Russia again denied the claims.

Ukraine’s ambassador to Turkey, Vasyl Bodnar, had said Turkish buyers were among those receiving grain from the annexed region of Crimea.

He added Ukraine was working with Turkey and Interpol to find the culprits.

“Russia is shamelessly stealing Ukrainian grains and getting it out from the invaded Crimea. These grains are being shipped to foreign countries, including Turkey,” he told reporters in Ankara.

Appeal made

“We have made our appeal for Turkey to help us and, upon the suggestion of the Turkish side, are launching criminal cases regarding those stealing and selling the grains,” Bodnar said.

Russia and Ukraine account for nearly 33% of global wheat supplies.

In May, Egypt turned away a sanctioned Russian bulker allegedly carrying grain from Crimea.

The 28,350-dwt handysize Matros Pozynich (built 2010) was refused permission to dock at Alexandria.

The ship was carrying 27,000 tonnes of grain and reportedly later docked in Syria.

The bulker is owned by CMC Heavy Lift of Astrakhan, which did not respond to TradeWinds’ request for comment.

The company is part of the state shipyard group United Shipbuilding Corp, which has been sanctioned by the US for allegedly building warships involved in the Ukraine conflict.

Another CMC vessel is believed to be part of the latest probe.

Ukraine has begun moving produce by rail and truck through Poland and Romania to the Baltic, where bulkers are starting to load cargoes.