- Turkish fact-finding and service team
The Turkish authorities detained a Russian-flagged cargo ship loaded with wheat, after it reached its territorial waters, in the Black Sea, according to the Ukrainian ambassador to Turkey.
And Reuters news agency quoted a Turkish official as saying that his country was investigating allegations about the cargo ship loaded with wheat flying the Russian flag.
Ambassador Vasyl Bodnar said: “We are fully cooperating with the Turkish authorities, and the ship is now anchored at the entrance to the port, after being detained by the Turkish customs authorities.”
We traced the ship’s itinerary from the port of Berdyansk, in the areas occupied by Russia, in eastern Ukraine, until it reached the Turkish port of Karasu, on the southern coast of the Black Sea.
On Monday, a spokesman for Russian President Dmitry Peskov confirmed that the Kremlin had no information about the seizure of a Russian grain ship in Turkey, according to the Russian Sputnik news agency.
It is not clear where the ship, “Zybek Zuli”, originally came from, nor how it was loaded, but the Russian authorities have been accused of stealing wheat from the areas they occupied in Ukraine, accusations that Russia denies.
The port of Berdyansk is located in the Zaporizhzhya region, southern Ukraine, on the coast of the Sea of Azov.
The departure of the ship, the port of Berdyansk, was announced on the Telegram social networking site, through the account of Evin Balitsky, the governor appointed by Russia, recently for the areas occupied by eastern Ukraine.
Palitsky said that his country will send more than 7,000 tons of wheat to “friendly” countries.
He added that the ships of the Russian Black Sea Corps command will “provide protection” for cargo ships while they are moving at sea, after clearing the waters of the port, in Berdyansk, from sea mines.
Palitsky later amended his publication, removing the ship’s data, details about its tonnage, and its destination.
And accounts close to the Russian government, “the Kremlin”, posted on Telegram, videos, of the ship, while it was leaving Berdyansk, accompanied by a number of Russian military battleships.
By comparing the images in the aforementioned news report with satellite images of the port, we were able to confirm that the images were indeed in the port of Berdyansk.
The position of the shadows, in the clip, and the nature of the weather, indicate that the video was filmed on the morning of the twenty-eighth of last month.
Some information was shaded in the video, such as the name of the ship, but despite that, we were able to confirm that the ship that left the port of Berdyansk is the same ship detained in Turkey, based on photos published on the Telegram application, in addition to eyewitnesses, who transmitted their testimonies to an expert Ukrainian Shipping.
We were also able to trace the first movements of Zebek Zuli, when she began heading to Ukraine, to load her shipment.
On the 22nd of last month, the ship sailed from Turkey, unloaded its cargo, in the Russian port of Novorossiysk, and then approached the Ukrainian coast, and then its tracking signal was cut off, which is likely that the signal device has been closed.
The signal appeared again, on the twenty-ninth of last month, when it was heading south in the Black Sea, away from the Ukrainian coast, and the tracking device also reports the depth of the ship’s draft, which indicated that it was carrying a large cargo.
Michelle Buckman, an expert at Lloyd’s List intelligence, called this behavior “suspicious.”
She says many cargo ships turn off their tracking devices for part of their voyage in the Sea of Azov, but most turn them on again upon arrival.
It is not known whether the ship intends to unload its cargo in the Turkish port of Karasu, or to continue sailing south towards the Bosphorus Strait, and from there to another unknown destination, until now.
The Zobek Zuli, owned by Kazakhstan-based KTZ Express, told Reuters that the ship was chartered by a Russian company, adding that it was still communicating with other relevant parties, and that it would abide by all sanctions and international embargo restrictions.