Russia and Ukraine trade barbs on social media over wheat shipment to Egypt

Ukrainian embassy in Cairo says vessel loaded with wheat bought by Egypt was prevented by Russia from sailing, a claim Russian embassy denies

The Ukrainian embassy in Cairo has claimed that Russia has prevented a ship loaded with wheat and destined for Egypt from leaving its Black Sea port. The charge has been categorically denied by Russia, whose navy currently dominates the Black Sea.

On its Twitter account, the Ukrainian embassy said the Emmakris-III, a Panama-flagged bulk carrier, was prevented from sailing to Egypt. The embassy said the wheat had been "purchased by Egypt."

The Russian Embassy responded by blaming the Ukrainian military for keeping the commercial vessel docked at the Black Sea ports of Odesa and Chornomorsk. It said the Russian navy ensured commercial shipping in the area.

The social media tussle between the two embassies is part of an apparent media war between the two neighbours since Russia invaded Ukraine in February, with both nations seeking to discredit and tarnish the other.

Russia's embassy in Egypt said that the presence of the Russian navy in the Black Sea ensured the free movement of merchant vessels.

There was no immediate word from the Egyptian government on whether the Emmakris-III was headed for Egypt with a cargo of wheat.

Egypt, where bread is a staple, depends on Russia and Ukraine for about 80 per cent of its annual wheat imports, which stood at about 13 million tonnes in 2021.

The world’s largest wheat importer, it has said the last shipment of Ukrainian wheat it had bought left a day before Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24.

Egypt has wide-ranging and complex ties with the two warring nations. Besides wheat imports, Russians and Ukrainians account for a significant portion of the millions of tourists who visit Egypt every year. Egypt also imports large quantities of sunflower oil from both nations.

Egypt has been buying cutting-edge weapons from Moscow in recent years and has agreed for Russia to build its first nuclear power station.

Updated: April 06, 2022, 4:09 PM