Russian drones targeted and attacked Odessa, Ukraine’s main inland port across the Danube River from Romania. The attacks, which occurred on Wednesday (8/2/23), severely impacted global food prices and disrupted grain shipments from Ukraine. These airstrikes have caused significant damage to critical infrastructure, including grain silos, warehouses, and port facilities, obstructing Ukraine’s grain exports. The attacks have triggered concerns in the global food market, leading to a surge in food prices worldwide.
Russia reimposed a de facto blockade on Ukrainian ports in mid-July, hampering grain export from Ukraine, one of the largest suppliers of global grain.
The port of Izmail serves as a vital alternative route for Ukraine’s grain exports after Russia’s blockade halted traffic at the country’s Black Sea ports. On the day of the attack, dozens of international ships destined for Izmail were forced to halt their journeys and anchor at the mouth of the Danube River, indicating an apparent effort to breach Russia’s blockade.
As a result of the airstrikes, buildings in the port area were reduced to ruins, and grain spilled from damaged silos. The Ukrainian authorities released videos showing firefighters battling a massive blaze and the scale of destruction caused by the attacks.
The repercussions of the attack were immediately felt in the global food market. Chicago wheat prices surged by nearly 5%, reflecting concerns about reduced grain supplies from Ukraine. The fear of losing Ukrainian grain from the market led to panic among buyers and traders, further driving up prices.
These attacks on Ukraine’s grain infrastructure are part of a series of recent offensives carried out by Russia. Russia has been targeting Ukrainian agricultural and port infrastructure for over two weeks in response to Ukraine’s strike on a bridge to Crimea, which Russia uses to supply its troops in southern Ukraine.
In the wake of the attacks, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who had previously brokered an agreement to export Ukrainian grain, called for fresh talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The goal is to find a resolution to enable the free export of Russian grain and fertilizers, which had been restricted due to sanctions against Russia.
The attacks on the port of Izmail and other Ukrainian infrastructure have escalated tensions between Russia and Ukraine. These actions pose a threat to Ukraine’s food security and economy and have severe implications for the global food market.