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Russia's Ghost Fleet

Scripps News and Bellingcat uncover Russian vessels covertly exploiting international ports for Ukraine's resources in the spoils of war.
Russia’s Ghost Fleet
Posted at 8:00 PM, Aug 20, 2023

Analysis of marine traffic data and satellite imagery reveals new details of how Russian ships carry valuable grain and other natural resources from occupied Ukraine to international ports, often circumventing international sanctions.

Original reporting from Scripps News, Bellingcat, and research firm Lloyd’s List Intelligence shed light on this complex system and on the ways Russian vessels evade traditional ship tracking methods.

On June 24, 2023, the Mikhail Nenashev, a Russian cargo ship, was visible in satellite imagery at a port in occupied Crimea as it loaded up on grain harvested from Ukrainian land occupied by Russia.

SEE MORE: No Surrender: Ukraine’s unsung heroes

The ship can then be seen traveling through the Bosphorus Strait in Istanbul, Turkey, where a ship spotter is able to film it and record its passage.

A month later, the Nenashev is visible in additional satellite imagery showing it at port in Iran.

This ship—and its path from occupied Ukraine through Turkey and out to the international market—is part of a systematic, years-long effort by Russia to profit off of grain harvested from occupied Ukraine, robbing Ukraine of one of its most valuable resources and reshaping the global market for grain.

Working with Bellingcat and research firm Lloyd’s List Intelligence and using satellite imagery and shipping data, Scripps News has found multiple suspect ships that’ve taken grain from Sevastopol dozens of times since the start of the invasion, feeding into expanding Russian ship transfers in the Black Sea.

Read Bellingcat's full report here.

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