A Russian soldier guards grain storage. (AP Photo) AP Photo
Russia Ukraine

Israelis use cutting-edge technology to root out novel forms of Russian aggression in Moscow’s war on Ukraine.

By United with Israel Staff

An Israeli firm called Windward is ringing alarms over a new strategy in Russia’s Ukrainian onslaught.

Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24 after months of troop build up on the border. The war has displaced millions of Ukrainians in addition to costing the eastern European country thousands of lives, with many referring to the situation as the worst refugee crisis since World War II.

Moscow perpetrates its punishing aggression not only on the battlefield, launching economic attacks on Ukraine was well, which include wide scale theft of staple foods such as grain.

Russia smuggles the stolen goods via cargo vessels, a phenomenon that has been widely documented.

Using a cutting-edge artificial intelligence technology called Maritime AI, Windward identified a new dimension to Russia’s economic war on Ukraine: grain laundering.

Grain laundering “features a combination of dark activities and ship-to-ship meetings in the open sea,” reports Windward.

The Israeli firm analyzed unreported information related to five vessels engaging in “dark activities and ship-to-ship operations in the Kerch Strait in June 2022 as part of what appears to be a coordinated effort to launder grain allegedly stolen from Ukraine,” explains a Windward report.

“There has been a 160% increase in dark activities in the Black Sea by bulk carriers flying either the Russian or Syrian flags when comparing July 2020-June 2021 to July 2021-June 2022. Of the events that happened between July 2021 and June 2022, 73% took place after the war began,” adds the report.

According to Windward, Russian-flagged cargo vessels and ships operating under other flags-of-convenience appear to simultaneously meet with one to four cargo and service vessels in the Kerch Port offshore waiting area.

Some ships stay in that area and only make northern trips before returning to the Kerch area, while other vessels leave the area to distribute potentially stolen grain.

After analyzing grain-smuggling routes, Windward discovered that they travel through the Kerch area and Bosporus Strait, before continuing on to Turkey or Syria.

“Ships disable their automatic identification systems, concealing the vessels’ locations and operations at sea. While this happens naturally from time to time – usually due to lack of reception or bad weather – ‘going dark’ as these Russian ships appear to be doing ‘is an intentional choice to avoid transparency,’” reported Israel21c, quoting the Windward report.

Historically, vessels have used dark activities such as this to smuggle crude oil. Now it appears they are being used for the first tine to traffic in illicit grain shipments.

With interruptions in the supply chain wreaking havoc worldwide, Russia’s theft, smuggling, and laundering poses a significant threat to the economies of countries around the globe.

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