Since its unlawful invasion of Ukraine in February, Russia has systematically stolen vast amounts of Ukrainian assets, primarily steel and wheat. According to U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Russia is pilfering the assets to sell for its own profit. The looting violates international law, and the Russian Federation’s own military regulations prohibit illegal confiscation of property. Yet, the illegal activity continues, and the world is paying a heavy price:
If we don’t act now to stop this illegal activity, the effects could be increasingly severe and long-lasting,
exacerbating the challenges of COVID-19 economic recovery
Russia Theft Report
The Initiative for the Study of Russian Piracy (ISRP) released a new report exposing the magnitude and potential impact of Russia’s looting of Ukrainian assets, like grain and steel. The report identifies nearly 50 discreet incidents of theft and estimates a constantly growing total of more than half a million metric tons of wheat, corn, and barley has been shipped. The investigators also found that Russia has taken more than 11,000 metric tons of Ukrainian metal products, largely from the Azovstal Iron and Steel Works plants that had been under siege in Mariupol, with a total value of over $166 million. They found another 28,000 metric tons of steel products loaded onto ships, and nearly 200,000 metric tons of metal at the port that can be stolen by Russia at any moment. The illegal activity has sparked fears of an engineered famine and the resulting economic impact is already being felt worldwide.
ISRP will continue to track instances of Russian theft and will provide updates as well as subsequent reports. Check out the report page for the latest information.
Launch Press Conference Audio
July 26, 2022
Russia Theft Watch
Issue No. 1 - Welcome to Russia Theft Watch
A message from editor, James Glassman:
During its illegal invasion of Ukraine, Russia has killed at least 6,000 Ukrainian civilians and 9,000 military members, caused millions to flee or be forcibly deported to Russia, and destroyed more than $100 billion worth of infrastructure and homes. As if this brutality were not enough, Russia has also been looting resources on a historic scale, stealing hundreds of thousands of tons of grain and steel that belong to the Ukrainian people.
Whether used to feed Russian soldiers and build weapons of war, or sold by Russian entities into domestic or export markets, the stolen Ukrainian resources are prolonging the war and killing even more Ukrainians.
Recently, a group of former U.S. government officials, international trade experts, national security specialists and investigators formed the Initiative for the Study of Russian Piracy (ISRP) to track this massive theft and help media and other concerned parties tell the story to the world. This newsletter will follow the work of the ISRP as well as other researchers and reporters working on this important issue.
In this issue:
In The News
August 8 / Reuters / The first Ukraine grain cargo refused by buyer - Ukrainian embassy in London
The Razoni, the first ship to depart Ukraine under an U.N.-brokered deal, is looking for another port to unload its grain cargo as the initial Lebanese buyer refused delivery citing a more than five-month delay, Embassy of Ukraine in Lebanon said on Monday.
July 29 / CNN / Ukraine detains Russian-owned ship loaded with grain at Black Sea port
Ukrainian authorities have detained a ship at one of the ports where grain shipments are expected to resume through the Black Sea this week -- asserting the vessel is owned by a Russian company.
July 28 / Reuters / Syrian ship carrying 'stolen Ukrainian barley, flour' docks in Lebanon, Ukrainian embassy says
A Syrian ship under U.S. sanctions has docked in the northern Lebanese port of Tripoli carrying barley and wheat that the Ukrainian embassy in Beirut told Reuters on Thursday had been plundered by Russia from Ukrainian stores.
July 23 / Wall Street Journal / Russia attacks Odessa port a day after signing grain deal, Ukraine says
Russian missiles hit the Black Sea port of Odessa on Saturday, Ukrainian officials said, imperiling a deal Moscow and Kyiv reached a day earlier to allow shipment of millions of tons of trapped grain and ease a global food crisis.
July 15 / Bloomberg / Surging Crimea Shipments Point to Stealing of Ukraine Grain
The Russian-occupied peninsula of Crimea is shipping more than 50 times the volume of food it usually does at this time of year, likely indicating that seized Ukrainian grain is being taken abroad, according to analysts and the Kyiv School of Economics.
June 28 / Financial Times / Ships going dark: Russia’s grain smuggling in the Black Sea
Earlier this month, a ship called the Fedor steamed south through the Bosphorus before stopping at Bandırma, a Turkish port just south of Istanbul. The Russian bulk carrier was hauling 9,000 tonnes of corn, which it delivered to local buyer Yayla Agro, one of Turkey’s leading producers of pulses, grains and rice.
June 27 / BBC / Tracking Where Russia is Taking Ukraine's Stolen Grain
There's mounting evidence that Russian forces in occupied areas of Ukraine have been systematically stealing grain and other produce from local farmers. The BBC has talked to farmers and analysed satellite images and shipping data to track where the grain is going.
June 15 / Bloomberg / Ukraine Steelmaker Says Russia Is Taking Metal From Mariupol
A Ukrainian steelworks owned by billionaire Rinat Akhmetov accused Russia of taking its metal from Mariupol for resale back home and asked President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to sanction the “pirates.”A boat loaded with metal from the Ilyich Steelworks headed to the Russian port of Rostov-on-Don at the end of May, Metinvest Holding LLC said in a statement. About 145,000 tons of steel products were left in Mariupol, a port city occupied by Russia’s military. The company, Ukraine’s biggest steelmaker, didn’t say how much of its product was on that boat.
June 8 / The New York Times / Russia Seeks Buyers for Plundered Ukraine Grain, U.S. Warns
Russia has bombed, blockaded and plundered the grain production capacity of Ukraine, which accounts for one-tenth of global wheat exports, resulting in dire forecasts of increased hunger and of spiking food prices around the world. Now, the United States has warned that the Kremlin is trying to profit from that plunder by selling stolen wheat to drought-stricken countries in Africa, some facing possible famine.
May 30 / The Maritime Executive / Russian Media Confirms Extraction of Grain, Steel From Ukraine's Ports
Russia has admitted to taking grain and steel cargoes from Ukraine and removing them to Russian territory, confirming Ukrainian accusations of theft. The Russian military recently finished clearing sea mines from the port of Mariupol, the decimated port city that fell to the invading force earlier this month. In addition to the installation of mass graves on the city's outskirts, Russia has begun restoring commercial trafic at the seaport, beginning with the removal of Ukrainian steel products.