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Russians Steal Vast Amounts Of Ukrainian Grain And Equipment - World Politics - PostsMania

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Russians Steal Vast Amounts Of Ukrainian Grain And Equipment by anigold: 10:31 am On 5 May
Russian forces are stealing farm equipment and thousands of tons of grain from Ukrainian farmers in areas they have occupied, as well as targeting food storage sites with artillery, multiple sources have told CNN.

The phenomenon has accelerated in recent weeks as Russian units have tightened their grip on parts of the rich agricultural regions of Kherson and Zaporizhzhia in southern Ukraine, the sources said. Sowing operations in many areas have since been disrupted or abandoned.
The actions of the Russian forces may threaten the harvest this year in one of the world's most important grain-producing countries. The volumes involved are said to be huge.
Oleg Nivievskyi, an agrarian specialist at the Kyiv School of Economics, told CNN that on the eve of the invasion 6 million tons of wheat and 15 million tons of corn were ready for export from Ukraine, much of it held in the south of the country.
Ukraine's Defense Ministry said Thursday an estimated 400,000 tons of grain had been stolen to date.
Farmers and others in Kherson and Zaporizhzhia have provided CNN with details of multiple thefts.
In late April, Russian soldiers removed 1,500 tons of grain from storage units known as elevators in the Kherson village of Mala Lepetykha, using trucks with Crimean number plates. The next day, those same trucks -- 35 in all - returned and emptied large storage units known as grain silos at nearby Novorajsk across the river Dnieper.
In Melitopol, an occupied city in Zaporizhzhia region, Mayor Ivan Fedorov shared a video with CNN that showed trucks -- several bearing the "Z" sign of the Russian military -- carrying grain towards Crimea. The main elevator in the city had been emptied.
A valuable commodity, looted on an 'overwhelming scale'
Fedorov told CNN that the Russians "went around all the villages, every yard and looked for agricultural machinery, for grain, which they subsequently looted."
"Chechen soldiers, fighting for Russia, act like criminals in the 1990s. First they offer to buy grain for a ridiculously low price. But if you don't agree, they take everything from you for nothing.
"The scale of looting is simply overwhelming," he said.

Agrarian Minister Mykola Solsky said a surge in thefts from farms had occurred in the last two weeks. Ukrainian officials say that occupying forces have warned farmers and businesses that if they report thefts to the police they and their families would be in danger.
For the occupiers, grain is an attractive commodity. The price of wheat is about $400 a ton on world markets and has moved sharply higher this year. It's difficult to trace its origins and can be easily shipped.
Nivievskyi says countries in the Middle East are happy to buy Russian wheat, which they get at a 20% discount, and don't care whether it's really from Ukraine.
Echoes from another dark period in Ukraine's history
For Ukrainians, the seizure of grain recalls a dark period in their history, when Stalin forcibly removed food stocks from Ukrainian peasants in the 1930s, leading to the deaths of millions of people. Known as Holodomor (to kill by starvation) it is considered an act of genocide by many Ukrainians.
The head of the Luhansk Regional Administration, Serhiy Hayday, says the Russians' goal is another Holodomor.
The Russians now occupy about 90% of Luhansk's farmland and have taken about 100,000 tons of grain from the region, he estimates.
Much of what they've not stolen has been destroyed. CNN spoke to Anatoliy Detochka, owner of Golden Agro, whose grain storage complex near Rubizhne was destroyed on April 14. It burned for two weeks.

The silo was only built two years ago at a cost of $5 million. Detochka told CNN when it was hit it contained about 17,000 tons of wheat and about 8,500 tons of sunflower seeds, worth altogether $13 million.
He is sure it was deliberately targeted because there are no other buildings in the area.
Detochka said at least two other elevators in the area were hit. CNN has obtained video of another grain silo being bombarded in Sylnelkove in Dnipro.
Hayday says there has been no sowing in Luhansk this spring "because the Russians are not interested. Why, if you can rob and secure yourself for several years to come?"
"If they know their grain is going to be seized, farmers may well say: 'Here are the keys to the tractor, go collect the harvest yourself, if you want,'" says Agrarian Policy minister Solsky.
One official said that the Russians had only allowed farmers to sow in Kherson if they agreed to surrender 70% of the harvest for nothing. Most farmers had refused.
The threat of hunger and bankruptcy
Trofimtseva said she had similar stories from Zaporizhzhia and Kherson. She said she heard that Russians were "proposing they would buy for 10% of the real value. And if you do not agree, then they will expropriate it for free. This is not isolated cases. This is a system."
The theft of grain on such a huge scale -- combined with the dislocation of war -- could affect world markets. Fedorov, the mayor of Melitopol, said: "If we do not harvest (the) next crop, the effect of hunger can be significant. And the main export route is ports which are currently blocked."
Oleg Nivievskyi at the Kyiv School of Economics told CNN that the real risk is over years not months. Farmers are losing money and may go bankrupt, he says.


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