Blinken says reports Russia is 'pilfering' Ukrainian grain for profit are credible

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Secretary of State Antony Blinken, meets with Denmark's Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod, Friday, June 3, 2022, at the State Department in Washington. Jacquelyn Martin/Pool via REUTERS

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WASHINGTON, June 6 (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Monday there are "credible reports" that Russia is "pilfering" Ukraine's grain exports to sell for profit.

Speaking during a virtual roundtable with philanthropies, non-governmental organizations and private sector entities, Blinken said the alleged theft was part of broader Russian actions during its war in Ukraine that have hit Ukraine's ability to export its wheat crop and worsened a global food security crisis.

"There are credible reports, as we saw in one of our leading newspapers today, that Russia is pilfering Ukraine’s grain exports… to sell for its own profit," Blinken said, an apparent reference to a New York Times story that said Washington last month warned 14 countries, mostly in Africa, that Russia was trying to ship stolen Ukrainian grain to buyers overseas.

Ukraine has accused Russia of shipping Ukrainian grain to countries including Turkey and Syria. read more

Russia's U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia stormed out of a U.N. Security Council meeting on Monday as European Council President Charles Michel addressed the 15-member body and accused Moscow of fueling a global food crisis with its invasion of Ukraine. read more

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Reporting by Simon Lewis and Daphne Psaledakis; Editing by Leslie Adler and Cynthia Osterman

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