Russia warned that it would treat all ships heading towards Ukraine’s ports like military threats. This move sent European and US grains futures skyrocketing.
The announcement came after Russia decided this week to withdraw its agreement with the UN last year to allow Ukrainian Black Sea grain to be exported despite war .
Since then, Moscow has increased pressure on Odesa in Ukraine. It launched a second attack on this port city that is the center of much of the nation’s grain exports.
The Russian Defence Ministry announced on Wednesday that all vessels headed to Ukrainian ports within the Black Sea will be considered as carrying possible military cargo. The Russian defence ministry said that the countries whose flags these vessels carry will be considered to be those involved in the Ukrainian war on Kyiv’s side.
The wheat, maize, and rapeseed contracts on Euronext, a Paris-based exchange, all closed at multi-month highs. They were up 7.8, 5.7%, and 5.6% respectively. Wheat futures in Chicago climbed by nearly 8 percent to $7.25 per bushel. Prices rose due to the EU’s extension of the ban on Ukrainian grain imports after the September deadline.
Ukrainian officials described the overnight assault on Odesa as a Moscow-led attempt to stifle grain exports on global food markets. The Russians were following up on the promise made by Russian President Vladimir Putin to punish Kyiv over a Monday drone strike that damaged the Crimean Bridge connecting the occupied Peninsula to Russian territory. Moscow blamed Ukraine for the attack.
Serhiy Bratchuk, spokesperson of Odesa’s military administration, stated in a video message on Wednesday that “it was the most horrible night.” Social media footage showed massive explosions in Odesa, which was once one of Ukraine’s largest and most cosmopolitan city before Putin began his full-scale attack just 500 days ago.
Ukraine’s Air Force said that 37 of the 63 drones and missiles that were aimed at critical infrastructure and military installations had been intercepted. Odesa was the main target.
Oleg Kiper, the governor of Odesa, said that “dozens” of missiles as well as attack drones had hit the area.
He added that “a grain and oil terminal was hit”, in addition to buildings for civilians and hotels, and tourist sites were damaged by falling debris, which injured at least 6 civilians. Mykola Solsky said that the grain export infrastructure at Chornomorsk was also destroyed, south of Odesa.
Mykhailo Podolyak is an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. He said that Russia had “deliberately” and “intentionally” struck grain terminals and port facilities. . . “to destroy the ability to ship Ukrainian grain”.
In a tweet, Podolyak questioned whether the UN would take any action against the “deliberate act of terrorism” committed by the Russian Federation against global food program.
In an interview released Tuesday with African journalists, Zelenskyy asked: “Does it determine whether there is hunger in some countries?”
Ukraine’s Armed Forces, meanwhile claimed incremental progress in a counteroffensive that was launched at the beginning of last month. The offensive has been struggling to liberate the eastern and southern areas from Russian forces.
Hanna Maliar said that a Russian offensive against the town of Kupyansk in the north-east had failed. She added that “the initiative now is on our side”.
She and other officials claimed small unspecified gains in the southern frontline area north of the Azov sea and near the bombed out eastern city of Bakhmut.
Sergei Aksyonov announced that more than 2,000 people were being evacuated and that a motorway was closed near an army training area where there had been explosions for several hours over night. He didn’t explain what triggered the explosions that appeared to be a weapons storage depot. Nor did Ukrainian officials claim credit for the strike.
Dmitry Peskov, Kremlin spokesperson, said that Putin received a report on the fire. He said that “measures are being taken and the situation is being clarified.”