Russia stepped up its destruction of Ukrainian grain, with attacks on the port of Odesa export facilities on the Black Sea and exercises to seize and destroy any nearby grain ships. Direct attacks on Odesa four days in a row and continuing, after Russia pulled out of the Black Sea Grain Initiative, as it fights Western sanctions by threatening a world food crisis.
As photos from Ukraine showed a fire burning among crumpled metal buildings that appeared to be storehouses, State Department’s Matthew Miller said “Russia continues to use food as a weapon of war.” He added, “I think it ought to be quite clear to everyone in the world right now that Russia is using food as a weapon of war, not just against the Ukrainian people, but against all the people in the world, especially against the most underdeveloped countries who depend on food from the region.”
Moscow’s threats against grain ships sent benchmark wheat prices surging by as much as 8.5 percent last week, while corn and soybean costs also climbed.
Miller says, “We’ve seen the Russian Federation make threats against ships in international water. The Kremlin spokesperson made implicit – you might even call them explicit – threats about ships carrying Ukrainian grain, saying they could not ensure their safety, which I think everyone can figure out what that means. And today, you see them doubling down on these threats again, after launching attacks on Odesa which is the major port for shipping Ukrainian grain.”
Ukraine is the world’s seventh-largest wheat producer, and the Black Sea deal helped moderate grain and therefore, food prices. Higher prices are now fueling fears of a worldwide food crisis and price volatility in global markets.