KYIV — Russia unleashed a barrage of Kalibr cruise missiles from the Black Sea at the Odesa region for the fourth night in a row, targeting port and grain infrastructure, after Moscow withdrew from a U.N.-brokered deal that allowed Ukraine to continue exporting food to the world.
“Two rockets hit the granaries of one of the agricultural enterprises in Odesa,” Oleg Kiper, head of the Odesa regional military administration, said in a statement Friday morning. “While rescuers were struggling to extinguish the fire, another missile hit the same enterprise, damaging agricultural and rescue equipment.” Two employees were injured in the strikes, he added, and 100 tons of peas and 20 tons of barley were destroyed.
Over a million tons of grain are in storage awaiting transport to Africa and Asia at Ukrainian ports, which Russia has targeted nightly since pulling out of the Black Sea Grain Initiative on July 18, leading to concerns about global food prices, particularly in food-insecure nations.
Earlier this week, Russia destroyed a grain terminal in the port of Odesa that held 60,000 tons of grain destined for China, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in a statement Wednesday.
United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres has said the grain deal had stabilized global wheat prices, which are now spiking again.
Russia’s attacks on Ukrainian ports and grain facilities “are also having an impact well beyond Ukraine. We are already seeing the negative effect on global wheat and corn prices which hurts everyone, but especially vulnerable people in the global south,” Stéphane Dujarric, Guterres’ spokesman, said in a statement Thursday.
Russian President Vladimir Putin vowed Moscow would return to the deal only if his demands are met. These include Western countries readmitting Russia’s state agricultural bank to the SWIFT international payment system and lifting restrictions on insurance for its vessels.
The U.N. and Turkey-brokered grain deal led Russian farmers to lose $1.2 billion, Putin claimed, adding that countries that relied on Ukrainian cereals ought to buy from Russia instead.
“Our country is able to replace Ukrainian grain, both on a commercial and free basis. Especially since we are expected to have a record harvest again this year,” Putin said.
Russia’s decision to withdraw from the grain deal, as well its its threat on Wednesday to shoot at all ships going across the Black Sea to Ukrainian ports, sparked a tit-for-tat warning from Kyiv that it would do the same to all vessels sailing to Russian-controlled Black Sea ports.