Wheat prices soar after Russia ditches Black Sea grain deal; Russian missile strikes cut power and water

Wheat prices soar after Russia ditches Black Sea grain deal; Russian missile strikes cut power and water
People collect water from a water pump in Kyiv, Ukraine, 31 October 2022. (Photo: EPA-EFE / Oleg Petrasuk)

A fresh round of Russian missile strikes hit power and water infrastructure across Ukraine after the Kremlin blamed Kyiv for strikes against its Black Sea fleet and pulled out of a landmark grain export deal.

Wheat prices soared after Russia warned that shipments will become “much riskier” without its participation, even as ships loaded with grain began to leave Ukraine. The United Nations and Turkey worked to salvage the grain export agreement to keep seaborne exports flowing.

Russia suspended the agreement after drone strikes against its naval fleet, claiming without evidence that one of the drones launched on Saturday might have come from a grain ship that was part of the Black Sea initiative. The Kremlin also said underwater drones were launched from the Odesa region.

Key developments

On the ground

Russian missiles targeted Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, including essential civilian infrastructure, leaving parts of the city without water and electricity. Explosions were also reported in regions including Kharkiv, Zaporizhzhia, Kremenchuk and Vinnytsia.

Russia’s military struck the Dnipropetrovsk region with artillery and drones overnight, hitting residential buildings and other facilities as well as energy infrastructure, local authorities said on Telegram. Russian forces began preparations to remove artillery from the Dnipro River’s right bank in the Kherson region, Ukraine’s southern operational command said on Facebook.

Ukrainian Cabinet cuts GDP growth forecast 

Ukraine’s Cabinet slashed its economic growth forecast to 3.2% from 4.6% for next year, Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said on Telegram.

The Cabinet also now sees 2023 inflation at 28%, compared with 30% expected before, he said. Next year’s budget deficit will exceed 20% of gross domestic product, Shmyhal said.

Russia warns it may move to control Black Sea ship passage  

Russia will be forced to take its own measures to control ships passing without its approval in the Black Sea, Russia’s permanent representative to the United Nations, Vasily Nebenzya, said at a meeting of the UN Security Council, according to the Russian Tass news service.

“Given the existing facts of abuse of the humanitarian corridor and the fact that the Black Sea remains a war zone, we cannot allow the passage of ships without our inspection, and we will be forced to take independent measures to control” dry-cargo ships, he said.

The “Black Sea Initiative,” the deal between Russia, Turkey and Ukraine, which was signed in July, shouldn’t be carried out without Russia, he said.




Turkey urges restoration of grain shipments 

Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar said that he had discussed the halt of grain shipments in a call with his Russian counterpart.

“The continuation of the grain initiative, which makes a great contribution to the solution of the global food crisis and shows that all problems can be solved with cooperation and dialogue, is of great importance,” he said, urging that it be “separated from the conflict conditions.”

Electricity cut off in Lviv after Russian strikes

Electricity cutoffs started at 5pm in the Lviv region in western Ukraine and would last three to four hours, regional governor Maksym Kozytskyi said on Telegram.

Lithuania denounces Russian missile strikes on Ukraine infrastructure 

Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda called Russia’s attack on Ukraine’s civilian infrastructure “further evidence of grave war crimes” in a statement after meeting Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.

“We must continue military, political and humanitarian support to Ukraine and help it to counter Russia’s barbaric military aggression,” he said. “We must continue the policy of sanctions against Russia and Belarus and prepare a new package of targeted and effective sanctions. We also have to reinforce defence capabilities in Nato’s eastern flank.”

Belarus to open joint military training centres with Russia 

Belarus plans to create joint military training centres with Russia, the state-owned news agency Belta reported, citing a decree signed by President Alexander Lukashenko. The country’s defence ministry is tasked with holding talks with Russia on setting up the centres and signing an agreement.

Ukraine assesses damage from Russian strikes

Russian missiles and drones damaged infrastructure in 10 Ukrainian regions and hundreds of locations were without power in seven of them, Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said on Telegram. The strikes left more than 80% of Kyiv residents without running water and 350,000 apartments lost electricity supply, Mayor Vitali Klitschko said on Telegram. By evening, 40% still had no water supply and 270,000 apartments remained without electricity, he said.

Russia plans to raise diesel exports ahead of EU ban

Russia’s diesel exports via its key Baltic and Black Sea ports are set to reach a seven-month high in November as Europe grapples with a fuel shortage ahead of a full ban on such purchases early next year.

EU grain corridors have carried 29 million tonnes of goods  

More than 14 million tonnes of agricultural products have been exported to Ukraine via the so-called solidarity lanes between May and October, European Commission spokesman Stefan de Keersmaecker told reporters in Brussels. Over the same period, 15 million tonnes of non-agricultural products such as steel, oil and humanitarian products were exported.

Latvia detains 37 people after removing Soviet monuments

Police detained 37 people after authorities began taking down an obelisk honouring the Soviet military in Latvia’s second-biggest city of Daugavpils.

The city, near the eastern border with Belarus, is nearly half ethnic Russian. Latvia removed a tall Soviet obelisk in the capital Riga in August and plans to take down all Soviet monuments across the country.

Ukraine power company running out of parts to fix infrastructure

Ukraine’s largest private power company DTEK is running low on inventories of spare parts to fix power infrastructure damaged by Russian shelling.

“We have already used up the stockpiles of equipment which we had in our depots after the first two waves of attacks since October 10,” Dmytro Sakharuk, executive director of DTEK, said on TV.

DTEK was able to buy some equipment on the market, but needs to purchase millions of dollars worth of spare parts as procurement problems are mounting amid soaring prices, he said. Preliminary estimate of damage to DTEK from Russian attacks is estimated in millions of dollars, according to Sakharuk.

Poland sees reverse in flow of Ukrainian refugees

This month’s massive Russian attacks on Ukrainian infrastructure may trigger a new wave of refugees to Poland, Wojciech Kononczuk, the deputy head of the Polish Centre for Eastern Studies said on Twitter.

Polish border guard data show that October is on track to be the first month since April when the number of Ukrainians moving to Poland was higher than those travelling back to Ukraine.

Kremlin says grain shipments without Russia ‘much riskier’

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said grain shipments from Ukraine’s Black Sea ports had become “much riskier” after Russia suspended participation in a deal to protect them, but he declined to comment on what conditions Moscow was setting out for rejoining the pact.

“In circumstances where Russia is talking about the impossibility of ensuring the security of shipping in these areas, of course, such a deal is hardly implementable,” he told a conference call. “It takes on a different character, much riskier and more dangerous.”

He said diplomatic consultations were under way with Turkey and the UN on the future of the pact.

Russia hits infrastructure in 10 regions of Ukraine 

Russia’s missile and drone attacks on Monday damaged 18, mainly energy, facilities in 10 regions of Ukraine, Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said on Telegram.

“They are not targeting military facilities, but critical civilian infrastructure,” he said, adding that “hundreds of locations have had power cut off in seven Ukrainian regions”.

Ukraine has 25 regions, including Crimea, which was annexed by Russia in 2014.

Revolut billionaire gives up Russian citizenship 

Nikolay Storonsky, the 38-year-old co-founder and chief executive officer of London-based fintech startup Revolut, has renounced his Russian citizenship amid his outspoken opposition to the war in Ukraine.

“Nik is a British citizen. Earlier this year he renounced his citizenship by birth to Russia. His position on the war is on the public record: the war is totally abhorrent and he remains resolute in calling for an immediate end to the fighting,” a spokesman for Revolut said.

A former derivatives trader at Credit Suisse Group and Lehman Brothers, Storonsky and several partners launched Revolut in 2015.

Russian missile targeting Ukraine power unit falls in Moldova

One of the missiles launched by Russia during its attack on Ukraine’s critical power infrastructure fell in the town of Naslavcea in Moldova, which is only 10km from the Dnister dam in Ukraine. The downing shattered the windows of several houses, Moldova’s Interior Ministry said in a statement.

Czech premier visits Kyiv

Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala and several other members of his Cabinet arrived in Kyiv for talks with Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal.




Ukraine downed most Russian missiles fired on Monday 

Ukrainian air defence forces shot down 44 of more than 50 missiles launched by Russian forces on Monday morning, the country’s air force command said on Telegram.

Russian Tu-95 and Tu-160 bombers launched Х-101 and Х-555 cruise missiles from above the Caspian Sea and from the area near Volgodonsk in Russia, according to Ukrainian air forces.

Crop ships are leaving Ukraine again

Wheat prices soared early on Monday as traders watched for developments on exports. Ukraine is one of the world’s biggest suppliers of wheat, corn and vegetable oil and the July agreement to open three Black Sea ports has been vital to help alleviate a global food crisis.

Russia has only temporarily suspended its participation in implementing the deal, which was brokered by Turkey and the UN, but is still a signatory to the agreement, according to Ismini Palla, a UN spokeswoman for the Black Sea Grain Initiative.

Under the terms of the initiative, all parties agreed not to undertake attacks against merchant and civilian ships. Palla confirmed at that time that outbound ships were moving and assembling near the entrance to the corridor.

Ukraine reports huge Russian missile strikes

Ukraine said Russia launched a massive wave of missile attacks across the country after the Kremlin accused Kyiv of strikes against its Black Sea fleet and pulled out of a grain-export deal.

The attacks caused large-scale power and water supply cut-offs on Monday morning across the country. DM


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