Russia has continued to target Ukrainian grain after pulling out of the Black Sea grain agreement on July 17th.
Ukrainian officials said 15 Iranian-made Shahed-136 drones were launched at warehouses on the Danube River in the ports of Reni and Izmail on Monday night, July 24th.
Six people were wounded in the attacks that were the latest in an escalation of bombings of Ukrainian infrastructure and a series of grain-related exchanges between the two countries.
A week ago, Russia pulled out of the Black Sea grain deal that had allowed the transport of Ukrainian crops through the Black Sea, which Russia controls. It has been the principal trade route for Ukraine, which has about a 25% share of the global wheat market.
On July 16th and 17th, just before the grain deal was to be extended, the bridge over the Kerch Strait in Crimea was attacked. The next day, Russia hit grain storage facilities in the Ukrainian ports of Odesa and Chornomorsk. Now it has attacked Ukraine’s principal alternative to the Red Sea maritime route—its ports on the Danube River near the border with Romania.
The Danube has become more important for Ukraine, expanding the shipping capacity of ports after losing access to the Black Sea. Ukraine has exported about 1 million tons of grain a month via routes through the EU since then with large volumes moving out along the Danube and through Romanian ports.
Following the attacks on its river ports, Ukraine accused Russia of “food terrorism” by targeting grain export infrastructure.
“Russia hit another Ukrainian grain storage overnight,” Ukraine’s foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, posted on Twitter.
“It [Russia] tries to extract concessions by holding 400 million people hostage. I urge all nations, particularly those in Africa and Asia, who are most affected by rising food prices, to mount a united global response to food terrorism,” he added.
“Russia is trying to fully block the export of our grain and make the world starve,” Oleh Kiper, the governor of Ukraine’s Odesa region, said on Ukrainian television.
In the wake of the attack, global wheat and corn futures rose sharply on fears of further impediments to grain exports. Romanian grain trade expert Caesar Gheorghe said the latest attack had “electrified” the grain market.
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called on Russia to return to the Black Sea grain deal, warning of the impact of Russia’s blockade on “vulnerable countries struggling to feed their people.”