Head of illegally annexed Donetsk region announces grain shipment from Mariupol

 The so-called Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR), territory in eastern Ukraine illegally occupied and annexed by Russia, has announced its first grain export from the port of Mariupol.

“The first ship carrying grain from the Donetsk People's Republic loaded at the Mariupol commercial seaport,” the pro-Russian acting head of the DPR, Denis Pushilin, posted on his Telegram account on Monday.

Ukrainian authorities said the grain being exported from Mariupol was “stolen” from the country, but added that the move is mostly for the purposes of propaganda, as the port is not fully operational.

“The first three and a half thousand tons of Ukrainian grain from Zaporizhzhia and Donetsk regions were stolen with the help of the Mariupol seaport,” Petro Andriushchenko, an advisor to the Ukrainian Mayor of Mariupol said.

“The loading took about one week, which indicates the port's low efficiency. It can be stated that this cargo is more a propaganda piece,” he added. 

“But the fact is the fact. The looting of Ukrainian grain is gaining momentum again. Now it is by sea.”

Some background: Mariupol, a port city on the Sea of Azov, witnessed some of the most intense fighting since Russia launched its invasion. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has estimated that “tens of thousands” died during the siege of the city. Ukrainian forces finally evacuated the city in May last year, after resisting Russia’s advances for weeks.

Images of Mariupol’s destruction became symbols of the Kremlin’s use of indiscriminate firepower in Ukraine, drawing stark visual parallels with the leveling of cities like Syria’s Aleppo or the Chechen capital of Grozny.

At the time of the siege, Mariupol’s mayor estimated that 90% of the city’s infrastructure had been damaged, 40% of it beyond repair.

Russian President Vladimir Putin made a surprise visit to Mariupol in March – his first visit to territory captured by his forces since the war began.

During his visit, a video showed Putin in discussion with Russian Deputy Prime Minister Marat Khusnullin, outlining plans for “ongoing construction and restoration work” in the city.

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