Just hours after abandoning a treaty that guaranteed Ukraine’s exports across the Black Sea, an essential link in the world food supply chain, Russia reportedly conducted one of its most powerful missile assaults on the grain-exporting port of Odesa in Ukraine.
According to Natalia Humenyuk, a spokesperson for the southern command of the Ukrainian armed forces, the port was particularly targeted by the wave of missile assaults that occurred early on Tuesday. She added that the government had anticipated such a strike.
The attacks occurred when a group from the U.S. Agency for International Development was in Odesa. On Tuesday, the agency unveiled a $250 million aid program to upgrade and restore grain export infrastructure as well as increase port capacity along the Danube River.
A share will also go toward aiding farmers who have been negatively impacted by Russia’s choice to sow fresh crops even if the previous ones haven’t yet sold.
The United Nations assisted in the signing of the Black Sea grain agreement between Russia, Ukraine, and Turkey in Istanbul in July of last year, allowing Ukrainian exporters to begin exporting maize, wheat, sunflower oil, and other products from three ports near the city of Odesa.
The ports of Ukraine are among the most significant export hubs for commodities like wheat and corn.
On Monday, the Kremlin announced that it might rejoin the agreement provided certain conditions were satisfied, including Western assistance to improve its own shipments of food and fertilizer, which it claims have been impeded by sanctions.
Russia has since announced that any ships attempting to enter Ukrainian ports would be considered hostile, meaning they could be fired upon by the Russian navy.