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Russia strikes Ukraine's Danube port, driving up global grain prices

Published Aug 01, 2023 11:56PM ET Updated Aug 02, 2023 07:03PM ET
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By Pavel Polityuk

KYIV (Reuters) -Russia attacked Ukraine's main inland port across the Danube River from Romania on Wednesday, sending global food prices higher as it ramped up its use of force to prevent Ukraine from exporting grain.

The drone attacks destroyed buildings in the port of Izmail and halted ships as they prepared to arrive there to load with Ukrainian grain in defiance of a de-facto blockade Russia reimposed in mid-July.

Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov said the Russian attacks damaged almost 40,000 tons of grain which had been destined for countries in Africa as well as China and Israel.

"Moscow is waging a battle for a global catastrophe," President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said in his nightly video address.

"In their madness, they need world food markets to collapse, they need a price crisis, they need disruptions in supplies."

Kubrakov, writing on Facebook (NASDAQ:META), said the Danube ports' infrastructure had been "devastated".

"Ukrainian grain is indispensable for the world and cannot be replaced by any other country in the coming years," he wrote.

"The port of Izmail suffered the most damage, including the terminal and infrastructure of the Danube Shipping Company."

Russian state news agency RIA said the port and grain infrastructure hit was housing foreign mercenaries and military hardware. A naval ship repair yard was also targeted, it said.

RIA provided no evidence to back up its assertion and Reuters was not able to verify the report.

Video released by Ukrainian authorities showed firefighters on ladders battling a blaze high in a building covered with broken windows. Several other large buildings were in ruins, and grain spilled out of at least two wrecked silos.

There were no reports of casualties, Odesa regional governor Oleh Kiper wrote in a post on the Telegram messaging app.

Commercial ship-tracking data showed dozens of international ships halting and dropping anchor at the mouth of the Danube, many of them registered to arrive in Izmail in an apparent attempt to breach Russia's blockade.

The port, across the river from NATO-member Romania, is the main alternative route out of Ukraine for grain exports, since Russia's blockade halted traffic at Ukraine's Black Sea ports in mid-July.

Two industry sources told Reuters operations at the port were suspended. Seaport authority head Yuriy Lytvyn said on Facebook that repair work had already begun and the port infrastructure continued to operate.

Chicago wheat prices rose by nearly 5% on supply concerns after the attack, only to tumble later on Wednesday on strong Russian exports and signs Moscow may be open to reviving the Black Sea corridor deal.

Ukraine is one of the world's top grain exporters. Russia has attacked its agricultural and port infrastructure for more than two weeks after refusing to extend the Black Sea agreement, which had lifted its war-time blockade of Ukrainian ports last year.

PUTIN SPEAKS WITH ERDOGAN

The United Nations has warned of a potential food crisis in the world's poorest countries due to Russia's decision to abandon the deal, brokered by the U.N. and Turkey.

The Kremlin said President Vladimir Putin spoke by telephone Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and reiterated Russia's condition for rejoining the agreement: that a parallel deal improving terms for its own food and fertiliser exports be implemented. Those exports are already exempt from sanctions, which the West says Moscow aims to undermine by threatening the global food supply.

Erdogan's office said he and Putin agreed the Russian leader would soon visit Turkey. Putin, wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes, has made no official visits abroad this year, and has left former Soviet territory only once since launching his invasion - a day trip to Tehran more than a year ago. Erdogan has said he hopes to host Putin and convince him to rejoin the grain deal.

Moscow has described recent attacks on Ukraine's grain infrastructure as retaliation for a Ukrainian strike on a bridge across the Kerch Strait to Crimea used to supply its troops in southern Ukraine.

Russia's defence ministry imposed restrictions on movement of ships and aircraft in the strait on Wednesday, the TASS news agency reported. It did not give a reason for the move.

U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Bridget Brink condemned Russia's attacks in a statement, listing recent targets: "Homes. Ports. Grain silos. Historic buildings. Men. Women. Children.

"Round-the-clock and intensifying Russian strikes on Kryvyi Rih, Kharkiv, Kyiv, Kherson make it clear once again Russia has no desire for peace, no thought for civilian safety, and no regard for people around the world who rely on food from Ukraine."

Ukrainian officials say Moscow has hit 26 port facilities, five civilian vessels and 180,000 tonnes of grain in nine days of strikes since quitting the grain deal.

Kyiv says the goal of the strikes is to reimpose Russia's blockade by persuading shippers and their insurance companies that Ukrainian ports are unsafe to resume exports.

Ukraine's Danube River ports such as Izmail accounted for around a quarter of grain exports before Russia pulled out of the Black Sea deal, and have since become the main route out, with grain sent on barges to Romania's Black Sea port of Constanta for shipment onwards.

Kyiv's goal is for international ships to go straight to its Danube ports and load directly, while Moscow says it will treat ships heading to Ukrainian seaports as potential military targets.

Asked about the situation on Wednesday, deputy U.N. spokesperson Farhan Haq told reporters: "We continue to reach out, at various levels, to make sure that we can continue to do as much as possible to get Ukrainian and Russian food and fertilizer out to markets, but it is difficult."

Russia strikes Ukraine's Danube port, driving up global grain prices
 

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Comments (8)
Darth Vader
Darth Vader Aug 02, 2023 9:23PM ET
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I started calling them Terrorussia
Ac Tektrader
Ac Tektrader Aug 02, 2023 5:53PM ET
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Russia the barbaric empire wantabe....as it self destructs its economy and it's Ally China eyes the weak Russian Federation with plans, when the Russian State disintegrates, to annex most of Russia's Outer Manchuria, the Ukrainians are sending tens of thousands of Russia's military back in body bags.....
coke in
coke in Aug 02, 2023 2:56PM ET
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Go Russia 🫡
Ac Tektrader
Ac Tektrader Aug 02, 2023 2:56PM ET
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how's st Petersburg Russian troll...
Brad Albright
Brad Albright Aug 02, 2023 2:56PM ET
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Go Russia, back home.
Ron Dixon
Ron Dixon Aug 02, 2023 1:30PM ET
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Headline should read: "US empire installed puppet in 2014 & backed a proxy war in Ukraine in 2022, sending global grain prices higher"
Brad Albright
Brad Albright Aug 02, 2023 1:30PM ET
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Yeah, Russia's imperial invasion is the fault of anybody but Russia and its pacified sheep.
Jhon Mackenrou
Jhon Mackenrou Aug 02, 2023 1:00PM ET
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Russian bot has entered the forum
Maximus Maximus
Maximus Maximus Aug 02, 2023 1:00PM ET
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those pests are ever-present..
Maximus Maximus
Maximus Maximus Aug 02, 2023 9:18AM ET
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russia attacking the worlds food supply, and the poorest countries will again suffer as a consequence...
Jadranka Matesic
Jadranka Matesic Aug 02, 2023 9:18AM ET
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so not true...when grain was flowing then it went to richer countries instead of poor, now Russia is sending their grain and fertilisers to African countries in need by sailing around China, India, to Africa
Jadranka Matesic
Jadranka Matesic Aug 02, 2023 9:18AM ET
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also why didn't the West keep their promises to Russia regards lifting some of the sanctions, so it's tit for tat. Now Russia wants several sanctions lifted before agreeing to unblock Ukrainian supplies.
Maximus Maximus
Maximus Maximus Aug 02, 2023 9:18AM ET
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jadranka, first answer me this, why is russia conducting a murderous imperialist war of aggression against a sovereign and peaceful country, destroying the peace in Europe since ww2?
Maximus Maximus
Maximus Maximus Aug 02, 2023 9:18AM ET
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also, is it not true that russia is bombing the infrastructure to export Ukranian grain as reported?
Jadranka Matesic
Jadranka Matesic Aug 02, 2023 9:18AM ET
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Yes, I agree that Russia should not have started their special operation, however how to stop NATO from further encroachment to the east ? Remember Cuba, Kosovo ? why so many double standards by the West ... why does America throw it's weight around via sanctions, look at the failure of sanctions on Iran and Venezuela ... does it result in a govt to be overthrown by the people ... no it doesn't ... just makes poor people and lower middle class poorer ... sanctions creates resentment of America and the West ... result is BRICS. why does America interfere in other countries? ... one China arrangement that has been in place for over 50 years ? what about Syria, Americans again interfering ? why ? its not America's and the EU's role to interfere in regional disputes ... aka ex Yugoslavia ... and then interpreting the rule of law as they see fit ... so its OK for a breakup of entities ... but not ok to breakup Bosnia given its 3 entities ? no consistency in applying rules of law.
Cynthia HeiseSwartz
Cynthia HeiseSwartz Aug 02, 2023 6:29AM ET
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such lovely people the Russians are. About time the west deny services to them for all products such as internet connection and let them just be like North Korea. If they want to be a completely separate and rival civilization then so be it, no trade, no services.
Show previous replies (3)
Maximus Maximus
Maximus Maximus Aug 02, 2023 6:29AM ET
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jadranka where as in russia and china, the people are only allowed to consume tightly controlled, regime-friendly news and state propaganda...
Brad Albright
Brad Albright Aug 02, 2023 6:29AM ET
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Jadranka Matesic What the west writes? You do understand the in the US we have a free press and unfettered access to the Internet. It is Russia that has state controlled media and censored internet. You are spouting nonsense.
Mark Jannetty
Mark Jannetty Aug 02, 2023 6:29AM ET
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is that why democrats interfer with media? US media is as corrupt as any Russian or Chinese media. They just use a different form of control
Ac Tektrader
Ac Tektrader Aug 02, 2023 6:29AM ET
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no they don't mark, prove it....you rationalizing the absolute control of media by authoritarian states, and some how suggesting something similar with the free press of democratic states in the west, makes you look stupid and ridiculous.
Ac Tektrader
Ac Tektrader Aug 02, 2023 6:29AM ET
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the slow motion destruction of the Russian economy is already apparent...the sanctions are having long term devastating effect......
Hazrat shah
Hazrat shah Aug 02, 2023 1:43AM ET
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hazrat shah
 
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