Sources of Information

Discuss about anything!
User avatar
DaffyVina
Posts: 720
Joined: 20 April 2020, 19:08

Re: Sources of Information

Post by DaffyVina »

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/61790625

Where is Russia taking Ukraine's stolen grain?

By Nick Beake, Maria Korenyuk and Reality Check team
BBC News
Published 2 hours ago
Additional reporting from Ukraine by Hanna Tsyba, Sira Thierij and Hanna Chornous
Additional reporting from London by Daniele Palumbo, Josh Cheetham, Jake Horton, Erwan Rivault and Andrei Zakharov

Image

Russian forces have been repeatedly accused of stealing grain from Ukrainian farmers in occupied areas as well as other crops such as sunflower seeds, along with fertiliser and agricultural equipment. The BBC has spoken to farmers, analysed satellite images and followed tracking data to look for evidence of where stolen grain is going.

A few dozen miles from the frontline, Ukrainian farmer Dmytro describes how the business he nurtured over 25 years was lost in four months of Russian occupation.

The BBC tried to contact more than 200 farmers whose land is now in Russian-occupied territory. Dmytro - we are not using his real name to protect him from reprisals - was one of the few willing to meet us.

"They stole our grain. They destroyed our premises, destroyed our equipment."

Image
CCTV footage of the moment Russian soldiers arrived at a storage facility

He says Russian forces now occupy 80% of the tens of thousands of hectares he farms and accuses them of stealing grain on an industrial scale.

CCTV from one of the company's sites captured the moment the Russians arrived. We've blurred some of the surroundings to protect the identities of the farm owners.

Later in the footage, one soldier spots a security camera and shoots at it, but misses.

Grain trucks were stolen and Dmytro says a couple of them had GPS trackers fitted.

We were able to use this data to see they had gone south into Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014, and then on to Russia.

Image

From the GPS data, both trucks stopped near a storage facility - identified as a site for unloading and storing grain - in the Crimean town of Oktyabrske.

In a satellite image from 14 June this year - you can see a line of trucks on the road next to the facility.

Image

We can see the storage facility is next to a rail line, which can be used to transport grain either into Russia or down to ports in southern Crimea. The top of the storage site also appears to have the Z symbol - the emblem of Russia's invasion - on the roof.

Queues at the border
It's very hard to track individual shipments of stolen grain but there is plenty of evidence that much of it goes first to Crimea. There is satellite imagery at two key entry points - at Chonhar and Armiansk - in which you can see a build-up of vehicles, which could be used to transport grain and other produce.

An image from the Chonhar entry point taken on 17 June shows a line of trucks more than 5km (three miles) long.

Image

This level of road traffic into Crimea is unusual as Ukraine has not had access to the area since it was annexed by Russia in 2014, and has been exporting grain and other products from elsewhere.

It might be possible to explain some of the volume of traffic as empty trucks returning from the occupied areas having delivered supplies to Russian troops. But an obvious interpretation is that many of the trucks are carrying grain - or other products like sunflower seeds - taken from Ukrainian farmers.

Satellite images of the town of Dzhankoi in Crimea show trucks waiting on a road next to a grain storage facility and near the connected train station.

Image

The images show cargo trains - with wagons of the type used to transport grain and other produce - at the station next to the storage facility.

Trains from Dzhankoi are connected to the ports of Sevastopol and Kerch, where produce can be moved into Russia or abroad.

Where is Ukrainian grain taken after Crimea?

"They take grain to the annexed Crimea first, where they transport it to Kerch or Sevastopol [ports], then they load Ukrainian grain on Russian ships and go to the Kerch Strait," says Andrii Klymenko, an expert at the Institute for Black Sea Strategic Studies in Kyiv, who regularly monitors movements of ships around Crimea.

"There, in the Kerch Strait [between Crimea and Russia], they transfer Ukrainian grain from small ships on to bulk carriers, where it is mixed with grain from Russia - or in some cases, they sail to this area just to give the appearance they are loading up with Russian grain."

He adds this is then exported with Russian certificates, saying that it's Russian grain.

Image

Ships have then often headed on to Syria or Turkey.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has said they have investigated claims about Ukrainian grain being shipped to Turkey and so far not found any evidence.

"We saw that the ships' port of departure and the origin of the goods is Russia on the records," he said.

Unusual volume of activity in Sevastopol

Satellite images from the Avlita grain terminal at the port of Sevastopol in the west of Crimea show a high level of activity throughout June, with yellow material consistent with the colour of grain being loaded on to a series of ships.

Video
Media caption: Evidence of cargo vessels being loaded with grain in the Avlita Grain Terminal, Sevastopol


We reviewed images of the same terminal in June over the past few years, and this amount of activity appears to be unusually high.

Some experts we spoke to said this activity could only be accounted for by grain transported from Ukraine's mainland. "Crimea doesn't really grow a lot of grain for export," says Mariia Bogonos, agriculture policy expert at the Kyiv School of Economics.

It would also not make geographical sense for Russia to use Sevastopol to export its own grain.

But Mike Lee, an agriculture expert with Green Square Agro who has worked in both Ukraine and Russia, says some grain coming out of Crimea could be part of a backlog from last year's harvest, kept in storage because of the war. "Crimea is under Russian control, but supply chains have been affected there as well."

The ships that turn off their trackers
From Crimea, the US and Ukrainian authorities and media reports have named nine ships believed to have transported stolen Ukrainian grain abroad.

Using data from Lloyd's List Intelligence, the BBC has tracked these ships on journeys between Crimea and ports in Turkey and Syria since April.

Lloyd's List Intelligence says the vessels have used what maritime specialists would describe as "deceptive" sailing practices - switching off their on-board trackers when entering the Black Sea, or moving around the Kerch Strait near Crimea.

When their trackers come back online, the ships are sailing south and many report a lower depth in the water, suggesting they've taken on cargo during the blackout.

The BBC mapped the journeys of three vessels: the Matros Pozynich and Sormovskiy 48, owned by two companies in Russia, as well as the Finikia, owned by the Syrian General Maritime Authority.

We tried to contact the Russian-registered owners of these vessels to ask about the journeys, but did not get a response. We were unable to get through to the Syrian owners.

Despite the gaps in their tracker histories, satellite imagery has revealed where some of the ships have been.

Image

Pictures from Maxar show the Matros Pozynich in Sevastopol in Crimea in mid-May. During this trip, it sailed to the Kerch Strait, had a transponder blackout for five days, and then reappeared hundreds of miles south in the Black Sea. It was later pictured in the Syrian port of Latakia - but had its tracking system off.

Under the UN's Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS), ships must have their trackers switched on at all times, unless it poses a threat to their safety and security - from piracy, for example.

Michelle Wiese Bockmann, a market editor at Lloyd's, believes there is no justification for turning off trackers near Crimea or near the Syrian coast.

"This practice is clearly not linked with piracy risks," says Ms Bockmann. "Other ships have their transponders on, so why don't they?"

Russia's tactics
The BBC has also obtained documents drawn up by the Russian occupying authorities listing farms where grain is to be transferred to them.

A separate investigation by BBC Russian and BBC Ukrainian has shown that in some cases, the Russians are forcing Ukrainian farmers to sell grain at prices well below market rates, and sign documents to prove it was purchased "legally".

While early reports were typically of outright theft by Russian forces, farmers suggest there has been a change in tactics as the Russians realise that if they pay nothing, future harvests could be sabotaged. The farmers say they have to accept the low prices as they have no alternative and need to buy fuel and pay workers.

Emilie Pottle, an international law barrister, told the BBC that these actions may violate the Geneva Convention and International Criminal Court (ICC) rules governing occupying powers.

We contacted the Russian authorities to ask about these allegations, but have yet to receive a response.

However, some officials in Russian-held areas have spoken openly about Ukrainian grain being taken from the areas they now control.
User avatar
DaffyVina
Posts: 720
Joined: 20 April 2020, 19:08

Re: Sources of Information

Post by DaffyVina »

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/world-europe-62044014

Use a VPN if you need to to access this (instructions in previous posts)

Ukraine war: The Russian woman rescued from a Kyiv bomb site

A Russian-Ukrainian family has been irrevocably split by the war in Ukraine after Russian-born Ekaterina Volkova was injured in an air strike and her Ukrainian husband killed in the same attack.

This was the second time Russia had dropped a missile on their apartment building. In late April, a Radio Liberty journalist was killed in the same building.

Ukrainian authorities said the incident showed Russia’s indiscriminate bombing was even targeting their own citizens.

The BBC’s Anastassiya Zlatopolskai has tracked down the family in Kyiv who say the attack was unforgivable.

Producer: Hanna Tsyba
User avatar
DaffyVina
Posts: 720
Joined: 20 April 2020, 19:08

Re: Sources of Information

Post by DaffyVina »

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-62106446

Ukraine reports heavy Russian missile strikes in east and south
Published 1 day ago

A burning apartment block hit by Russian fire in Siversk, eastern Ukraine, 8 Jul 22
IMAGE SOURCE,GETTY IMAGES
Image

Russian missile and rocket strikes have caused more widespread damage in towns and cities across eastern and southern Ukraine, regional officials say.

Four civilians died in a strike on Siversk, a town in Donetsk region, local governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said.

Civilian areas of Druzhkivka, in the same region, were also hit. A supermarket was destroyed and a large crater appeared nearby.

The BBC was unable to verify details of the latest strikes.

Russian ground forces do not appear to have made significant advances in the past 24 hours in their push to take the rest of Donetsk region.

Crater in Druzhkivka, 9 Jul 22
IMAGE SOURCE,AFP
Image caption,
A suspected Russian missile gouged out this crater in Druzhkivka
Image

Ukrainian officials also reported Russian missile strikes on parts of Kharkiv, in the north, Mykolaiv in the south and Kryvyi Rih, a southern city north-east of Mykolaiv.

Ukrainian forces are fiercely defending Mykolaiv, a strategic river port on a key route to Odesa, which is Ukraine's main export hub. The Russian navy is still preventing Ukraine from shipping grain out of Odesa.

Ukraine's Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk has urged residents to leave Russian-occupied parts of Kherson and Zaporizhzhia in the south. The warning appeared to herald further Ukrainian counter-attacks.

The Russians are occupying the city of Kherson, but Ukrainian forces have taken back some parts of the region.

Police in the region accuse Russia of deliberately destroying crops. In a Facebook post they show photos of burning fields and say: "Large-scale fires occur every day, hundreds of hectares of wheat, barley and other grain crops have already burned." They also accuse Russian troops of destroying granaries and agricultural equipment, and of preventing locals from extinguishing the fires.

Crops ablaze
IMAGE SOURCE,KHERSON POLICE/FACEBOOK
Image caption,
Kherson police say Russian troops are deliberately destroying crops (pic: Kherson police)
Image

In Kryvyi Rih, Russian Grad rockets damaged a school and housing, killing a 41-year-old woman, local governor Valentyn Reznichenko said.

Russia's defence ministry said its forces had destroyed a hangar storing US M777 howitzers in Chasiv Yar, near Kramatorsk. The cities of Slovyansk and Kramatorsk are expected to be Russia's next major targets in Donetsk.

The US says it is supplying four more high-precision rocket systems to Ukraine. President Volodymyr Zelensky says the HIMARS rockets are being used to hit ammunition depots and warehouses in Russian-held territory, making Moscow's attempts at resupply much harder.

In the UK, British Army bases are now being used to train Ukrainians in combat, the UK government says. It aims to train up to 10,000 Ukrainians over the coming months.

In a new intelligence update, the UK military says Russia is moving reserve forces from across the country to positions near Ukraine for future operations. But it says many of Russia's reinforcements are "ad hoc groupings, deploying with obsolete or inappropriate equipment".

Map of eastern Ukraine, showing Russian areas of control, updated 4 Jul
Image
User avatar
DaffyVina
Posts: 720
Joined: 20 April 2020, 19:08

Re: Sources of Information

Post by DaffyVina »

Solidarity with this brave man: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lPahJQByjT0
User avatar
DaffyVina
Posts: 720
Joined: 20 April 2020, 19:08

Re: Sources of Information

Post by DaffyVina »

Previously there have been reports about the stolen grain, now of stolen sunflower seeds:

Ukraine war: How Russia uses social media to steal sunflower seeds
By Andrei Zakharov and Maria Korenyuk
BBC News
Published 1 day ago

Helicopter shadow over sunflower harvest in Ukraine
IMAGE SOURCE,GETTY IMAGES
Image caption, Ukraine and Russia were the world's biggest sunflower seed exporters in 2021
Image

The BBC has seen significant evidence that Russian forces in occupied areas of Ukraine have been systematically seizing not only Ukrainian grain, but also sunflower seeds from local farmers.

We have spoken to farmers who have lost their crops, and tracked messages in private and public social media groups showing how the seeds are transported from southern and eastern occupied parts of Ukraine to Russia.

The two countries were the world's biggest exporters of sunflower oil in 2021, with Ukraine selling 5.1 million tonnes of oil and Russia 3.1 million.

Now it appears that Russian oil is partially being produced from Ukrainian seeds, one of the symbols of the country's agriculture.

In a closed WhatsApp chat with about 500 participants, users placed orders to transport crops from occupied parts of Ukraine to Russia. Screenshots of the chat were shared with the BBC by one of its members.

"Seeds. From Chernihivka, Zaporizhzhia region [Ukraine] to Rostov-on-Don [Russia]. Large volumes," wrote one member on 18 July.

Where are Ukrainian sunflower seeds are taken map
Image

The BBC checked a dozen telephone numbers from the chat in online databases and found they belonged mainly to truck drivers or owners of small businesses related to cargo transportation.

Russians or those who co-operate with them also search for grain carriers in open Telegram chats. We spoke to them undercover, saying we owned several trucks.

Yelena, a Russian dispatcher who was looking for trucks to transport crops from southeast Ukraine, told us the "seeds weren't stolen".

"They're controlled by the [Russian-imposed] military-civilian administration. These transactions are transparent. The seeds have been purchased legally," she said.

Farmers we spoke to would question that: "They looted everything and took it away."

We contacted a farmer from an occupied region in southern Ukraine. He has since left the occupied territories but his employees are still there, so he asked for anonymity. He says Russian soldiers came to his warehouse and confiscated his crops in the end of May.

"We had 1,200 tonnes of sunflower seeds and 860 tonnes of wheat in our warehouse," he says. "And they [the Russians] looted everything. At first, they tried to be polite with our guard. They said: it's not us, it's the order given by our commander. But it wasn't clear where their commander was. They just pretended to be nice. They loaded all the harvest and took it away. And the guard, what could he do? They beat him."

The farmer says his crops were worth £700,000 ($856,000). He says he also lost nearly £1.5m worth of equipment.

Image
Burnt sunflower field in Ukraine
IMAGE SOURCE,GETTY IMAGES
Image caption, Owners of small and medium-sized farms in the occupied areas of Ukraine are being forced to sell sunflower seeds at a reduced price


We have spoken to other farmers in the occupied Zaporizhzhia region who have been forced to sell sunflower seeds at a reduced price. Russians are offering £120 per tonne. The price before the war was £500-600.

The situation is the same in the occupied Kherson region in southern Ukraine, says Oleksandr Hordienko, head of the local farmers' association: "Farmers sell [seeds] because they need money to buy diesel, fuel, and fertilisers. But if they [Russians] continue to offer such a price, then there's no point in starting the next sowing season at all."

The main product made from the sunflower seeds is oil. All the messages and adverts the BBC saw on social media showed that the destination for trucks transporting Ukrainian seeds were oil extraction plants in Russia.

"We go to plants directly, we don't unload [seeds] at warehouses," said Viktor, who was looking for trucks to deliver crops from the occupied Kharkiv region.

Destinations mentioned included Verkhnyaya Khava, a village in Russia's southwestern Voronezh region, with a large oil extraction plant, and the village of Gigant, in Russia's western Rostov region, also home to a major Russian oil plant.

Image
Sunflower field in Ukraine
IMAGE SOURCE,GETTY IMAGES
Image caption, It appears that Russian oil is partially being produced from Ukrainian seeds, one of the symbols of the country's agriculture


It is also believed that Russia could be smuggling ready-made sunflower oil from Ukraine.

The head of the Farmers' Association in the Zaporizhzhia region, Valeriya Matviyenko, says the oil extraction plant in occupied Melitopol is being used to produce sunflower oil, which is then transported to Russia through Crimea.

"Processing is under way, and you can even smell it. There's such a nice flavour there, you can smell it even from a 3km distance," a local farmer told the BBC.

A woman who is still in occupied Melitopol has also confirmed she saw equipment moving in and out of the plant.

We made enquires to the owner of the Melitopol oil extraction plant, Serhii Zhelev. He told us that the plant was not operating. When we asked him about local claims it had been occupied and was now operated by Russian forces, he hung up.
Post Reply

Return to “Off-topic”