New satellite images of a Russian ship suggest the nation is ramping up efforts of stealing grain from Ukraine.
Since Russia invaded Ukraine, there have been allegations of grain being stolen, which Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov brushed off and said such information "appears to be fake".
However, earlier in May, a UN food agency said millions of tonnes of grain were stuck in Ukraine and were unable to leave due to infrastructure challenges and the blockade of ports in the Black Sea.
The new images – which add weight to the suggestion Russia is stealing grain from Ukraine – were captured by Maxar Technologies on May 19 and 21 and obtained by CNN.
In the images, two ships are seen at Sevastopol, a port in Crimea, and the ships were being filled with what is believed to be grain supplies stolen from Ukraine.
CNN reported that both ships have since left Sevastopol.
While it may be impossible to prove the grain seen on the ships was stolen, CNN pointed out Crimea – which was annexed by Russia in 2014 – produces little grain compared with Ukraine.
Ukraine had been the world's fourth-largest exporter of maize in the 2020/21 season and the number six wheat exporter, according to International Grains Council data.
On May 21, President Volodymyr Zelensky warned a food crisis could be on the horizon if the world didn't help Ukraine unblock seaports.
"Russia has blocked almost all ports and all, so to speak, maritime opportunities to export food – our grain, barley, sunflower and more. A lot of things," he said.
The release also said Russia had blocked 22 million tonnes of food and the "aggressor country is gradually stealing it and trying to sell it".
Mr Zelensky said the food crisis would come after the energy crisis and could impact countries in Africa, Europe and Asia, which Ukraine trades with.
Tuesday marks three months since Russia invaded Ukraine.
Moscow appears to be bogged down in what increasingly looks like a war of attrition, with no end in sight and few successes on the battlefield.
There was no quick victory for Russian President Vladimir Putin’s powerful forces, no route that would allow the Kremlin to control most of Ukraine and establish a puppet government.
Instead, Russian troops got bogged down on the outskirts of Kyiv and other big cities amid stiff Ukrainian defences. Convoys of Russian armour seemed stalled on long stretches of highway. Troops ran out of supplies and gasoline, becoming easy targets from the land and the air.
However, on Monday, Zelensky announced Ukraine's worst military losses from a single attack, when Russian forces struck a barracks in a training base and killed 87 people.
With Reuters and Associated Press
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