Ukraine war

Russia attacks Ukraine’s vital Danube grain export route

Russia attacks Ukraine’s vital Danube grain export route
A damaged port infrastructure on the Danube River in the Odesa region, southern Ukraine, 24 July 2023. Odesa was hit by shock drones early 24 July, with three being shot down, according to a statement from the Ukraine Air Force. At least 6 people were injured in the attack according to the Operational Command South report. Russia, which began its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, has recently pulled out of a UN-Turkey brokered agreement guaranteeing safe passage to Ukrainian grain exports through the Black Sea and started the mass shelling of Odesa city, granaries, agricultural enterprises, and sea ports. EPA-EFE/OPERATIONAL COMMAND 'SOUTH' HANDOUT

KYIV, July 24 (Reuters) - Russia destroyed Ukrainian grain warehouses on the Danube River in a drone attack on Monday, targeting a vital export route for Kyiv in an expanding air campaign that Moscow began last week after pulling out of the Black Sea grain deal.

Last week’s attacks mostly struck the sea ports of Odesa but Monday’s pre-dawn strikes hit infrastructure along the Danube, an export route whose importance has grown since the demise of the deal allowing Ukrainian grain transit via the Black Sea.

“The Russian terrorists have again attacked the Odesa region overnight. Port infrastructure on the Danube river is the target this time,” regional governor Oleh Kiper wrote on the Telegram messaging app.

Global wheat and corn futures rose sharply on fears that Russian attacks and more fighting, including an overnight drone strike on Moscow, could threaten grain exports and shipping.

News website Reni-Odesa cited a local official as saying three grain warehouses had been destroyed in the Danube port city of Reni during a drone attack.

Video footage obtained and verified by Reuters showed a man cursing in disbelief at several damaged grain warehouses at Reni, an important transport hub across the Danube to NATO and European Union member Romania.

“This recent escalation poses serious risks to the security in the Black Sea,” Romanian President Klaus Iohannis said on Twitter, drawing attention to the proximity of the attack to Romania’s border.

Since Russia’s full-scale invasion in February 2022, Ukraine has expanded grain exports overland via the EU to about 1 million tons a month, with large volumes being exported from Romanian ports and along the Danube.

“Russia has in the past months not attacked Ukraine’s overland and inland waterways grain infrastructure,” one European trader said. “Any interruption of this traffic could quickly hit international grain supplies.

A French trader called it a “major development and a major blow” to Ukrainian exports, adding: “Without the Black Sea corridor and now with attacks on alternative routes, it will be hard to take Ukrainian grains out of the country.”

Kiper said: “Russia is trying to fully block the export of our grain and make the world starve.”



Ukrainian officials gave few details but police said warehouses storing grain crops had been hit along with tanks for storing other types of cargo, causing a fire.

Seven people were wounded and one of them was in a critical condition, Kiper said.

Police published photographs showing the damaged facilities, and containers marked with the logo of Maersk Group could be seen in one of the images.

Some Ukrainian news outlets reported explosions overnight in the area of Izmail, another important Ukrainian Danube port, but no firm reports of damage followed.

“It (Russia) tries to extract concessions by holding 400 million people hostage,” Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba wrote on Twitter. “I urge all nations, particularly those in Africa and Asia who are most affected by rising food prices, to mount a united global response to food terrorism.”

By Olena Harmash and Tom Balmforth

(Addition reporting by Valentyn Ogirenko in Kyiv, Michael Hogan in Hamburg, Sybille de La Hamaide, Luiza Ilie and Anna Pruchnicka; Writing by Tom Balmforth; Editing by Timothy Heritage and Nick Macfie)


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