Ukraine conflict: Merchant shipping and Russian naval blockades puts pressure on global grain prices - MoD

Merchant shipping and Russian naval blockades are impacting commercial shipping, with significant grain stocks remaining in storage – as the Russian invasion of Ukraine continues.

According to the MoD, the conflict is placing further pressure on grain prices and commercial activity.

The Ministry of Defence in their latest intelligence update said: “There has been no significant merchant shipping activity in or out of Odessa since the start of the war. Russia's subsequent naval blockade of key Black Sea ports has deterred the commercial shipping industry from operating in the area.

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"Ukraine’s overland export mechanisms are highly unlikely to substitute for the shortfall in shipping capacity caused by the Russian blockade. As a result, significant supplies of Ukrainian grain remain in storage unable to be exported.

Smoke rises after shelling near Berdyansk port in Ukraine.
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"Fighting has already placed indirect pressure on global grain prices. While the threat of Russia's naval blockade continues to deter access by commercial shipping to Ukrainian ports, the resulting supply shortfalls will further increase the price of many staple products.”

A regional governor in eastern Ukraine says at least six civilians have been killed by the latest Russian shelling.

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Luhansk region official Serhiy Haidai said another eight people were wounded in the shelling of the town of Sievierodonetsk over the previous 24 hours.

Sievierodonetsk is at the epicentre of fighting in Ukraine’s eastern industrial heartland of Donbas, where the Russian forces have been pressing their offensive despite stiff Ukrainian resistance.

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Mr Haidai accused the Russians of deliberately targeting shelters where civilians were hiding.

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People living in towns and villages near the front lines in Ukraine have been forced to hide in basements from constant shelling, struggling to survive with no electricity or gas – and often no running water.

“City residents are trying to return to regular life, but with every step, they stumble upon either a crater or a ruined house or a grave in the yard,” said 37-year-old engineer Andriy Pustovoi, speaking by phone to The Associated Press from the northern city of Chernihiv.

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“No one is cooking food over a bonfire or drinking water from a river any more, but there’s a long way to go to a normal life.”

Chernihiv was in the way of Russian forces as they advanced toward Kyiv early in the war. It was heavily bombarded, and mayor Vladyslav Atroshenko said about half of its buildings were damaged or destroyed.

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At least 700 residents were killed, and part of a city park now holds a cemetery, where some of them are buried.

“The scariest thing is that neighbouring Russia and Belarus are not going away from Chernihiv, which means that some of the residents that left when the war started may not come back,” Mr Atroshenko said.

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Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky has called the situation unfolding in the eastern Donbas region "extremely difficult", and argued that a regular supply of weapons to Ukraine was the best strategy to maintain global stability.

He said "the [full] strength of the Russian army was thrown [in Donbas] to attack".

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"Lyman, Popasna, Severodonetsk, Slovyansk - the occupiers want to destroy everything there," he said, referring to a cluster of cities located in eastern Ukraine.

"Therefore, the supply of heavy weapons to Ukraine - MLRS, tanks, anti-ship and other weapons - is the best investment in maintaining stability in the world.