Russian forces destroyed two western-owned grain terminals in the southern city of Mykolaiv, adding further damage to an already weakened global food supply.
Canadian agribusiness Viterra and U.S. Bunge Unlimited both confirmed that their facilities in the city were damaged by the attack. Neither company revealed any casualties. United States officials condemned the action, claiming that it was part of a larger effort to disrupt Ukraine’s ability to export food to the rest of the world.
There are at least 25 million tons of grain that are stuck in port cities, unable to be moved through the shipping lanes of the Black Sea. Not only are the stocks vulnerable to attacks like the one in Mykolaiv, but the blockage creates a crisis of storage. Unless the wheat can be moved, there will be no place to put the coming fall harvest.
Ukraine has tried to mitigate the disaster by moving some of the crops by train, but this plan is encountering major resistance due to the logistics involved. The plan may take up to eight months to have a substantial impact.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has claimed that his armed forces are not blocking Ukraine’s wheat exports, but the reality on the ground tells a different story. This week EU officials accused Putin of war crimes for his failure to allow of the wheat. It also appears that Russia is selling portions of the plundered crops and looking for buyers in countries that are experiencing food insecurity.
The United Nations is reporting that there is rising unrest in over 20 areas of the world with Ethiopia, Nigeria, South Sudan, and Yemen being of the most concern due to shortages of wheat and other staples. This has major implications for the international community.