Russian forces are believed to have stopped at least 200 to 300 ships from departing the Black Sea since the invasion of Ukraine began, causing major disruptions to one of the primary global trade routes for grain from a region once called “the world’s breadbasket.”
Officials from BayWa, one of Europe’s largest agricultural trading firms, said, “Zero (grain) is currently being exported from the ports of Ukraine — nothing is leaving the country at all,” according to the German broadcaster Deutsche Welle.
An administrator for the Panama Maritime Authority said three Panamanian-flagged ships have come under fire since the invasion of Ukraine began, with one of the ships being sunk and two others sustaining damages. There were no reported injuries, DW reported.
The Russian naval blockade is raising questions about the world’s food supply. Ukraine is one of the world’s largest exporters of grain — about 20 million to 25 million tons a year, according to DW.
At least 25 countries in Africa, especially in the least developed areas, rely on grain supplies coming from Ukraine and Russia — which has been hit by sanctions following the invasion, according to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development.
“Soaring food and fuel prices will affect the most vulnerable in developing countries, putting pressure on the poorest households which spend the highest share of their income on food, resulting in hardship and hunger,” said Rebeca Grynspan, the U.N. conference’s secretary-general. “This is a cause for great concern, as social and political stability and increasing food prices are highly correlated.”