Albania has continued to import a large amount of Russian wheat since the outbreak of war in Ukraine, leading to fears that some of the purchased products could be those stolen from Ukrainian stores.
Serbia, an ally of Moscow and Russia continue to be the country’s two biggest wheat suppliers, despite claims wholesalers are trying to diversify their sources.
Data on foreign trade shows that in the first five months of 2022, Albania imported 27% of its total wheat from Russia. Between January and May, that accounted to 105,000 tonnes of wheat, a slight decrease from the same period of last year.
However data from INSTAT showed that from the start of the invasion until the end of March, the amount of wheat doubled to 20,000 tonnes.
But slightly decreased figures over the following months balanced this out. The country is still importing a significant amount of the product from Russia.
Overall, Serbia remained the country’s number one supplier with around 47% of total imports. Data shows that the slight decline in Russian wheat was made up by Serbian imports.
Despite wholesalers pledging to find new sources of wheat, this has not been the case and import countries remain the same.
The Albanian government and customs have said that wheat imports are not covered by EU sanctions, to which Albania is party to.
Another issue is the fact that Russia has stolen thousands of tonnes of grain from occupied parts of Ukraine. It has then sought to sell this grain, exporting it to various destinations around the world.
At the start of June, the US sent an alert to 14 countries, mainly developing nations, about Russian cargo vessels loaded with “stolen Ukrainian grain”.
Kyiv’s ambassador to Ankara Vasyl Bodnar said stolen grain was being shipped out of Crimea.
“Russia is shamelessly stealing Ukrainian grains and getting them out from the invaded Crimea. These grains are being shipped to foreign countries, including Turkey,” he told reporters in Ankara.
Exit has reached out to the Economy Ministry to ask about checks and balances on incoming Russian wheat.