Egypt s FM Sameh Shoukry and his Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba
Shoukry stressed the need for a peaceful resolution to the conflict, adding that Egypt is willing to help the warring countries reach this end.
Kuleba tweeted that he is "grateful to Egypt for turning away a Russian ship loaded with grain stolen in Ukraine. We agreed to coordinate efforts to make Russia unblock Ukraine’s food exports.
"Ukraine and Egypt keep working together to ensure food security," he added.
Egypt, the world’s largest wheat importer, relies on wheat to produce bread – a key staple for Egyptians – with 80 percent of its imports coming from Russia and Ukraine.
Ukraine has officially accused Russia of stealing its wheat and tried to sell it. Kyiv warned countries of buying the stolen wheat, stating that those countries will be "complicit" in a crime, adding that there would be legal consequences for everyone involved in the theft and transfer of its grain.
On 10 May, Ruslan Nechai, Ukraine’s chargé d’affaires in Egypt told Wall Street Journal that Egypt turned away two Russian ships that were carrying stolen Ukrainian wheat.
The Associated Press and CNN reported on 12 May that Egypt turned away a Russian ship called Matros Pozynich carrying tonnes of allegedly Ukrainian wheat, according to Ukrainian officials, after its arrival in Alexandria.
The ship docked in Syria days later, according to satellite images.
There has been no official statement from Egypt about the incident.
According to Reuters, Egypt has already booked about 300,000 tonnes of wheat that were to be delivered in February and March, but due to the Russian invasion to Ukraine, the wheat has been stranded in Ukraine, with one cargo stuck in port and four others still to be loaded.
Egypt imports 12-13 million tonnes of wheat per year, according to the Observatory of Economic Complexity in 2020 – an online data visualisation platform focused on the geography and dynamics of economic activities across the globe.
Egypt has a four-month wheat reserve that will be boosted by the local wheat supply season, which has begun, and that will contribute to augmenting the strategic reserves until December 2022.
The government has announced that it is diversifying its import sources from a new list of countries, at the top of which is India, which has exempted Egypt from its recent wheat export ban.
Egypt is expected to receive its first wheat shipment, which amounts to up to 55,000 tonnes, from India soon.