Vladimir Putin, the president of Russia, seems to have given a free-for-all order for grain exports from Ukraine, which can be used to replace imports. Because of this, violent attacks on the port city of Odessa have started up again, and people are worried about how much food costs everywhere. Putin said that an attack on Odessa was a retaliation for damage to the 12-mile bridge that ties the annexation of Crimea to the rest of Russia.
Russia also broke a 12-month deal to keep Ukrainian grain moving to the rest of the world through the Black Sea Grain Initiative. Even though the grain deal between Russia and Ukraine was meant to keep food exports from being punished by the West, Russia has pulled out of the deal. In the meantime, the attacks on Odessa on Monday and Tuesday lit up the night sky and hit the port, an important part of the city’s infrastructure where Russia had agreed to let food leave as part of a deal brokered by the UN and Turkey in July.
Reports say that the US’s promise that Turkey could buy F-16 fighter jets and Turkey’s choice to let Sweden join NATO were enough to make Russia angry. Then, on Monday, Ukraine took responsibility for the damage to the bridge, even though the future of the grain deal was still uncertain.
The statement was made on Tuesday by Samantha Power, who is in charge of the US Agency for International Development. The Ukrainian farming sector has a big effect on the price of wheat on the market. I asked Alex Marquardt, CNN’s senior national security reporter in Odesa, about this week’s attacks to see if they had anything to do with the grain dispute and Putin’s anger over the damage to the important bridge.
Power said to Marquardt, “The idea that Putin would play roulette with the world’s most hungry people is just deeply disturbing at a time when the food situation is the worst of our lives.” He asked her if she thought that Russia might change its mind about the grain deal. The countries in sub-Saharan Africa, which stand to lose the most when grain and oil prices go up, will need to put pressure on top of what the US and the UN do. She thinks that Russia will keep going after infrastructure even if it has military defeats. “If you are a bully and an aggressor, it is always easier to use missiles and drones to destroy civilian facilities. Since the Russian Federation is fighting in the front lines, I think we should be ready for the worst.