The deal to ship Ukrainian grain and agricultural supplies through the Black Sea may be sunk, threatening world food supplies. Russia is pulling out of the agreement, accusing Ukraine of using the protected shipping lanes to launch drone attacks.
Russia said 16 drones attacked its Black Sea Fleet on Saturday. The Russian Navy said it repelled the attack on its base in Sevastopol and there was little damage done.
Russia claimed the Ukrainians moved the drones along the grain corridor safe zone with the help of specialists from the United Kingdom. The U.K. has denied the allegations.
As a result of the drone attacks, Russia severed its participation in a United Nations negotiated export deal which allowed Ukrainian grain and fertilizer to be shipped to countries in need. Before the invasion, Ukraine supplied 10% of the world’s wheat.
Ukraine and its Western allies are accusing Russian President Vladimir Putin of weaponizing food. They said Putin is trying to draw out the war through winter in the hope a global food shortage will put pressure on Western nations to stop helping Ukraine.
Grain prices surged Monday morning when markets opened. Wheat was up more than 5%, corn was up a little over 2%. Those prices are higher than a year ago but not as high as the records set immediately after Russia invaded.
While Russia said the export deal is over, Ukrainian grain was still being loaded up and shipped out Monday morning. At least 16 ships were set to sail through the Black Sea’s safe corridor.
In a tweet, Amir M. Abdulla, the coordinator for the Black Sea Grain Initiative, said, “Civilian cargo ships can never be a military target or held hostage. The food must flow.”
Reuters contributed to this report.