Russian attacks inflicted severe damage on key grain-exporting ports in Odesa this week, and Moscow is threatening ships in the Black Sea, a primary route for Ukrainian grain exports.

Russian missiles tore into the Ports of Chornomorsk and Odesa, mangling silos and other infrastructure on Tuesday and Wednesday, according to the Ukrainian Agriculture Ministry, which said 60,000 tons of grain also was destroyed.

Operations owned by Viterra, French shipping company CMA CGM Group, and Kernel, a Ukrainian sunflower oil exporter, were damaged in the attacks, the ministry said, stressing that repairs would take as much as a year.

“This is a terrorist act not against Ukraine, but against the whole world – the food security of which is again under threat,” said Ukrainian Agriculture Minister Mykola Solskyi. 

The Ports of Odesa and Chornomorsk were two of the three Ukrainian ports exporting millions of tons of wheat, corn and other ag commodities under the Black Sea Grain Initiative until it expired Monday when Russia pulled out of the deal.

United Nations and private hunger groups have warned that the halt in Ukrainian exports will lead to rises in global food prices and take a toll on developing nations.

"The breakdown of the Black Sea Grain Initiative is catastrophic,” said Mercy Corps CEO Tjada D'Oyen McKenna. “For many around the world, this is a matter of life and death. … With 24 million people already on the brink of famine, lives will be lost. The question now is how many."

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Meanwhile, the Russian Defense Ministry said that, effective Thursday, the Russian military will consider vessels on the Black Sea as supporters of Ukraine, according to a report from the Russian news agency TASS. Vessels on the Black Sea will be stopped and inspected, even in zones that are considered international waters.

It’s unclear if that will impact vessels that arrive at Romanian ports such as Constanta to load grain delivered by barges on the Danube.

“The Russian Federation has once again brutally violated the universal right to free navigation for the whole world and is deliberately undermining food security, condemning millions of people to starvation,” the Ukrainian Defense Ministry said in a statement. “By openly threatening civilian ships transporting food from Ukrainian ports, launching missile attacks and drone attacks on civilian infrastructure in peaceful cities, deliberately creating a military threat on trade routes, the Kremlin has turned the Black Sea into a danger zone.”

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