Infrastructure owned by two major grain traders at Mykolayiv, one of the biggest agricultural ports in Ukraine, was reportedly damaged on Wednesday by Russian missiles, adding to the mounting losses suffered by the country’s farm sector.
The attacks on the Ukrainian port city of Mykolaiv, which encompassed critical commercial assets, came the same day a refinery in Southern Russia claimed that two drone strikes had forced it to suspend operations.
The Russian military fired at least seven missiles on the southern Ukraine port, Regional Governor Vitaliy Kim reported on Telegram.
Bunge Ltd. said one of its installations was struck, and a city rescue unit was at the location. Also, a terminal owned by agricultural trader Viterra was damaged and set on fire, a company spokesperson said.
Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency reported that the attacks came even as representatives from Russia and Turkey said they held a “positive” meeting in Moscow on grain shipments from Ukraine.
Damage to Mykolayiv could make it more difficult to restart grain shipments, which have largely been halted since the invasion. The port usually accounts for about a quarter of the country’s grain shipments.
The resulting loss of wheat, corn, and sunflower oil to the world market has prompted U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken to accuse Russia of “weaponizing food.”
“A Russian naval blockade in the Black Sea is preventing Ukraine’s crops from being shipped to their normal destinations. … President Putin is stopping food from being shipped and is aggressively using his propaganda machine to deflect or distort responsibility because he hopes it’ll get the world to give in to him and end the sanctions. In other words, quite simply put, it’s blackmail,” Blinken said.
There were also reports of strikes at other structures in the city, but they could not be verified.
Rabobank analysts said, “Even if an agreement were reached today, safe passage could take months to complete. A return to Ukrainian export normality is currently not in sight.”
The Kyiv School of Economics calculates that Ukraine’s farm industry has lost $4.3 billion in damages to land, machinery, and livestock since the Russian invasion.