Russian missile hits tanker that has been floating in the Black Sea for months

The cargo ship flying the Russian flag "Zhibek Zholy" is anchored off the Black Sea coast, Turkey, on July 5.
Russian-flagged cargo ship “Zhibek Zholy” is anchored off the coast of the Black Sea, Turkey, on July 5 (Ozan Kose/AFP/Getty Images)

The release of a Russian ship allegedly carrying stolen Ukrainian grain from Turkish waters is “unacceptable,” Ukraine’s foreign ministry said.

Turkey ignored a request to arrest the ship and cargo and the ship was released on July 6, according to a statement from the ministry on Thursday.

It expressed “deep disappointment and appealed to the Turkish side with an urgent request to conduct an investigation … and provide a full response to the requests of the relevant authorities of Ukraine.”

The Russian merchant ship, Zhibek Zholy, had transported the grain from the occupied port of Berdiansk to the Turkish port of Karasu.

“Due to the unacceptable situation, the ambassador of Turkey in Kiev has been invited to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs,” the ministry added.

CNN has contacted the Turkish government for comment.

Russia’s TASS news agency said on Thursday that the Zhibek Zholy, “at anchor in Turkey, plans to leave due to inactivity and ship grain to a storage vessel.”

“The intention is to go to the accumulative (storage) ship and skip it,” TASS said, citing one of the ship’s crew members. “Then, when the great ship is loaded, (it) goes to ports and unloads.”

Vessel monitoring data Thursday shows that the Zhibek Zholy’s transponder is no longer active at its recent anchorage outside Karasu.

Satellite images show Russian ships regularly transferring their cargoes to other ships in the Black Sea.

Ukraine’s ambassador to Turkey, Vasyl Bodnar, previously told CNN that the Zhibek Zholy was anchored near Karasu because “it was basically detained by Turkish customs and not allowed to enter the port.”

“Now we await the decision of the relevant authorities of Turkey regarding the actions that Ukraine’s law enforcement authorities are urging,” he added.

Some background: For months, Ukraine and the allied countries have been trying to alleviate a growing food crisis caused by Russia’s months-long blockade of Ukrainian ports, accusing Moscow of using food as a weapon of war.

On Monday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said the country could hold up to 60 million tons of grain by the fall if it continues to struggle with blocked exports.

The UN has said that Russia’s blockade of Ukrainian ports has already pushed world food prices up and threatens to create catastrophic food shortages in some parts of the world.

Russia has repeatedly denied blocking ports or stealing grain.

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