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Russia Intensifies Aggression Against Ukraine by Bombarding Danube Port

Russia has launched an attack on a port on the Danube River in Ukraine, near the Romanian border, according to Ukrainian and Romanian officials. This move marks an escalation in Russia’s efforts to disrupt Ukraine’s agriculture and potentially invites a direct confrontation with the United States and its European allies.

The assault targeted the port in the town of Reni, which is across the river from Romania, a NATO member. The port serves as an alternative export route for Ukraine’s grain to reach global markets. The attack came just days after Russia terminated a deal that allowed Ukraine to ship its grain across the Black Sea. This is the closest Russia has come to hitting territory within the military alliance since its invasion of Ukraine last year.

In addition to the port strike, there were also two drone attacks in central Moscow on Monday morning, which Russian officials attributed to Ukrainian forces. Ukrainian and Romanian officials have condemned the port attack, highlighting the serious risks it poses to security in the Black Sea and the disruption it causes to Ukrainian grain shipments and global food security.

The Danube port attack occurred over the course of four hours, during which Ukraine’s air defenses shot down three drones. Seven people were wounded, including three from shrapnel, with one sustaining serious injuries. This attack could deter commercial vessels from using the port in the short term and increase insurance costs.

The Kremlin’s decision to withdraw from the Black Sea Grain Initiative last week has prompted an increase in attacks by Russian forces on the city of Odesa and its Black Sea port. These attacks have resulted in the destruction of grain stocks and infrastructure. Therefore, Ukraine’s alternative grain routes, including the Danube port, have become even more crucial.

Ukraine is a major producer of grain and other food crops and has been exporting approximately two million metric tons of grain per month through its Danube ports. The port attack in Reni could disrupt these exports and raise insurance costs. As a result of these developments, global wheat prices have risen by around 5.5 percent in Monday morning trading.

The drone strikes in Moscow and the port attack on the Danube occurred within the context of an ongoing war between Ukraine and Russia. Ukraine has been gradually launching a counteroffensive to regain control of territory seized by Russian forces. While Ukraine has rarely acknowledged attacking Russian territory far from the front lines, these drone strikes in Moscow are not the first since the war began.

Russia’s aggression towards Ukraine has received praise from supporters of the war, who view these actions as steps towards destroying Ukraine’s economy and blocking Western arms deliveries. They argue that Ukraine has been taking advantage of the port’s proximity to NATO territory and its ability to export goods without sailing through Ukrainian waters in the Black Sea. They believe that cutting off this route is a way to prevent Ukraine from evading the sea blockade and eventually deny it access to the Black Sea.

It should be noted that the Danube River delta, which stretches across Moldova, Romania, and Ukraine, has become crucial for exporting Ukrainian grain since the invasion. The United Nations and Turkey brokered a grain deal last year, covering major Black Sea ports and enabling Ukraine to ship more than 30 million tons of grain. Smaller ports on the Danube, not included in the deal, have also played a vital role in sending shipments to the Black Sea and international destinations.

Since Russia terminated the Black Sea grain deal, Ukraine has relied heavily on these alternative routes and overland pathways for its exports. Russia complained that the deal favored Ukraine and demanded certain conditions, including the lifting of Western sanctions on its agricultural products. The United Nations has warned that Russia’s attempts to halt Ukraine’s exports will worsen the hunger crisis in some African and Middle Eastern countries.

In response to the conflict, several European Union countries banned domestic sales of Ukrainian wheat, corn, rapeseed, and sunflower seeds due to protests by local farmers who claimed it drove down prices. However, the EU allowed the transit of these items for export elsewhere. The ban is set to end on September 15, but last week, ministers from five countries called for its extension. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky disagreed, stating that extending the ban would be unacceptable in any form.

Overall, the intensification of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine and the port attack on the Danube River further escalate tensions in the region and have significant implications for Ukraine’s agricultural exports and global food security.

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