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NASA calculates tonnes of harvest seized by Russia in occupied Ukrainian territories

NASA calculates tonnes of harvest seized by Russia in occupied Ukrainian territories Illustrative photo (Photo: Getty Images)
Author: Daria Shekina

According to NASA analysts, this year, on the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine by Russian aggressors, approximately 6.4 million tons of wheat and nearly 1.5 million tons of sunflower seeds were harvested, reports Bloomberg.

Problems with assessing damages

The new agency discusses that millions of tons of the most important agricultural crops are grown in the territories of Ukraine currently under Russian occupation, making it extremely challenging to assess the volumes accurately.

The challenge lies in the consumption of certain crops within these regions, while other volumes are either sent to Russia or mixed with Russian grain and sold on the global market.

The importance of assessing the value and damages becomes evident concerning any claims Ukraine may present for reparations from Russia.

Lost crop volumes

Approximate estimates of the agricultural produce lost by Ukraine due to Russia's aggression were facilitated by NASA's food security and agriculture program, particularly through satellite image analysis.

According to Inbal Becker-Reshef, the director of NASA's Harvest program, it involves a "tremendous amount of grain."

Furthermore, NASA Harvest research indicates that around 7% of Ukraine's agricultural lands were abandoned in 2023, primarily along the front line.

NASA calculates tonnes of harvest seized by Russia in occupied Ukrainian territories

Unplanted or abandoned fields along the front line are marked in red on satellite data from July 2023 (PlanetScope / Joseph Wagner, Shabrinath Nair, and Inbal Becker-Reshef / NASA)

The Kremlin pilfers Ukrainian grain

The research doesn't indicate the portion of harvested grain exported from these territories. Still, it assists in understanding the quantity that could potentially be blended with Russian shipments destined for other countries, including the Middle East and Africa.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, wheat production in Ukraine dropped by a third following Russia's widespread invasion.

As previously cited by Russian dictator Vladimir Putin's propaganda media, in December, between 5 to 6 million tons of grain from the captured regions of Ukraine were supposedly included in Russia's overall harvest.

However, the Ukrainian Grain Association notes that the figure could be even higher, as approximately 15-16 million tons of all crops are produced in the occupied territories.

At the end of November, Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal stated that the Russians had exported grain from the temporarily occupied regions of Ukraine worth at least $1 billion.