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Turkey releases Russian ship carrying 'Ukrainian grain'

Ukraine summons Turkish ambassador over release of the Zhibek Zholy, the Russian ship allegedly carrying stolen Ukrainian grain from occupied Berdyansk
The Zhibek Zholy ship was detained by Turkish authorities over the weekend and has since been released (Reuters)
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Ankara

Turkey has released a Russian-flagged cargo ship that was thought to be carrying stolen Ukrainian grain, the Ukrainian ministry of foreign affairs announced in a statement. 

The Zhibek Zholy, which was detained by Turkish authorities over the weekend, left the Black Sea port of Karasu in northwest Turkey on Wednesday, according to Refinitiv ship tracking data. 

Ukrainian officials, speaking to Middle East Eye, said they believed the ship was likely to have sailed for Russia or to the occupied Ukrainian port city of Berdyansk, which is where it came from. 

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“Ignoring the appeal of the Ukrainian side, the ship was released on the evening of 6 July,” the Ukrainian foreign ministry said. 

“The Ukrainian side received the mentioned information with deep disappointment and appeals to the Turkish side with an urgent request to conduct an investigation into the mentioned situation and provide a comprehensive answer to the requests of the relevant authorities of Ukraine, as well as to prevent similar cases in the future by all means.” 

Ukrainian authorities have also summoned the Turkish ambassador in Kyiv to provide an explanation, the statement said. 

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu discussed the issue with his Ukrainian counterpart on Thursday morning, according to a Turkish readout. 

On Wednesday, Russia's foreign ministry dismissed what it said were false reports of the ship's detention by authorities. 

Kyiv has accused Moscow of stealing grain from territories seized by Russian forces since the invasion began in late February.

The Kremlin, which calls the invasion of Ukraine a "special military operation", has previously denied that Russia has stolen any Ukrainian grain.