Ukraine asks Lebanon to stop Syrian boat from docking

The ship Finikia is carrying stolen Ukrainian grain, officials claim

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Ukraine has asked Lebanon to bar a Syrian state-owned cargo ship from docking in the country amid allegations it has stolen grain on board.

In a note to Lebanon's ministries of transport, finance and economy, as well as the customs directorate, the Ukrainian embassy said the corn had been “stolen from storage units in the Zaporizhzhia, Mykolaiv and Kherson regions”, Reuters reported.

The Finikia had a listed cargo of about 5,500 tonnes of corn that came from the Black Sea port of Sevastopol, the largest city in Crimea. The latter was annexed by Russia in 2014.

The note said the ship was “in violation of international law” and expressed its hope that Lebanon would “not allow the entry of the aforementioned cargo ship Finikia to Lebanese ports to sell stolen Ukrainian grain”.

The ship was due to dock in Lebanon's second city Tripoli, in the north of the country. According to MarineTraffic, the ship had not yet docked there.

Russia has previously denied stealing Ukrainian grain.

Last year, Ukraine voiced its concern when the Syrian-flagged Laodicea docked in Beirut carrying what Ukraine said was 9,000 tonnes of stolen flour and barley. Lebanon seized the ship but ultimately allowed it to leave. It sailed on to Syria.

Both the Finikia and the Laodicea are owned by the Syrian General Authority for Maritime Transport. The authority and the ships it owns have been sanctioned since 2015 by the US over their alleged role in Syria's civil war.

Ukraine has estimated that 450,000 tonnes of what it calls plundered grain arrived in Syria in 2022, following the Russian invasion in February.

A deal allowing the safe Black Sea export of Ukraine's grain expired in July.

Updated: August 24, 2023, 3:52 PM