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Russia attacked targets across Ukraine with drones before sunrise on Wednesday, hitting a critical river port facility and a grain silo in the southern Odesa region and raising further concerns over global food supplies.
Ukraine’s air defence forces “worked nonstop for almost three hours” to protect the Odesa region, the country’s Operational Command South wrote on Telegram. The region’s governor Oleh Kiper said fires had broken out at the port and emergency workers were rushing to put them out.
Videos and photos posted by Odesa authorities and local media showed flames and massive damage to the port of Izmail, which lies on the Danube river across from Romania, a Nato member and EU country.
“Russian terrorists again attacked ports, grain and global food security. The world must respond,” Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskyy said. There were no casualties, he said, but the drones caused “significant damage”.
Ukraine’s air force had earlier said a swarm of Iranian-supplied Shahed drones were seen heading towards Izmail, which, along with the nearby port of Reni, has become more important after attacks on the Black Sea and Sea of Azov ports.
Russia has repeatedly targeted ports in the Odesa region since backing out of the UN-brokered Black Sea Initiative, which allowed Ukraine to export its grain. “When civilian ports are targeted, when terrorists deliberately destroy even elevators, this is a threat to everyone on all continents,” Zelenskyy said on Wednesday. “Russia can and must be stopped.”
In Kyiv, a Financial Times correspondent heard the buzzing of the attack drones, followed by the blasts of Ukrainian air defence missiles and smaller arms fire as troops shot them down.
More than 10 drones targeting the Ukrainian capital were downed, according to the military. Mayor Vitali Klitschko said debris fell over the Solomyansky, Svyatoshynskyi and Holosiivskyi districts of the capital, and non-residential premises were damaged.
The Russian attack on Ukraine’s capital followed drone attacks on Moscow on Sunday and Tuesday. Kyiv did not take responsibility for the attacks, in line with its policy of neither confirming nor denying strikes on Russian territory. But the Kremlin blamed Ukraine for the attacks, which targeted a skyscraper housing several government ministries.
The impact of Russia’s latest attack on Ukrainian port and grain facilities was immediately clear on global markets. Wheat traded in Chicago jumped 4 per cent on Wednesday amid heightened concerns over global food supplies. Maize prices climbed more than 2 per cent, while soyabean oil prices rose 0.3 per cent.
Russian and Ukraine are two of the world’s biggest exporters of grain. Moscow’s attacks, and its scrapping of the UN-brokered deal last month, have pushed prices higher.