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Wheat grain is pictured at a warehouse in Bashtanka, Mykolaiv region, as Russia's attacks on Ukraine continue, Ukraine June 9, 2022. REUTERS/Edgar Su

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June 10 (Reuters) - Authorities in a part of Ukraine seized by Russia are using "cunning schemes" to avoid Western sanctions and sell grain to North America and other parts of the world, Russian state-run RIA news agency reported on Friday.

Ukraine has accused Russia of stealing grain from the territories Moscow occupied since launching what it calls a special military operation in February. The war threatens to cause severe food shortages as Russia and Ukraine account for about 29% of global wheat exports.

Vladimir Rogov, a member of the administration in the southeastern Zaporizhzhia region of Ukraine, was quoted by RIA as saying grain was also being sold to Middle Eastern and African nations.

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"They are afraid of sanctions but nevertheless buy our grain with joy - of course, through intermediaries and cunning schemes," RIA quoted Rogov as telling Russian television.

Rogov said there were 1.5 million tonnes of grain in the region, RIA added. He did not say whether any of the grain had been delivered to customers.

Last week the Ukrainian embassy in Beirut said Russia had sent its ally Syria an estimated 100,000 tonnes of stolen wheat, describing the shipments as "criminal activity". read more

Russia and Ukraine are in a deadlock over grain exports from Ukrainian ports.

Russia has seized large parts of Ukraine's coast, blocking farm exports and driving up the cost of grain. Moscow blames the food crisis on sanctions restricting its own grain exports.

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Reporting by David Ljunggren; editing by Grant McCool

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.