Source: Alamy

Photos show piles of grain and sunflowers spilling out of damaged grain silos and warehouses in the Odesa region of Ukraine

Russian drone attacks damaged several grain storage areas in the Odesa region of Ukraine on Wednesday, fuelling concerns over shipping and potential global food shortages.

Ukrainian firefighters have been tending to blazes in the ports of Reni and Izmail on the Danube, a crucial route for exports of foodstuffs like wheat and corn.

Regional governor Oleh Kiper said on Telegram that Russia had attacked Odesa twice last night with drones. “The main target is port and grain infrastructure in the south of the region,” he said.

The Ukrainian president’s chief of staff Andriy Yermak confirmed there were no casualties from the attack. However, photos showed piles of grain and sunflowers spilling out of damaged grain silos and warehouses.

Commodity analysts at Mintec today reported the ports continued to operate, “albeit with a degree of uncertainty”.

“Nevertheless, there is substantial concern among market participants that potential shippers might be discouraged from utilising these ports due to recent events,” said Mintec grain analyst Kyle Holland.

Moscow’s fresh attacks on the ports increased concerns around Ukraine’s exports capacity, which has been under pressure since Vladimir Putin quit the UN-brokered Black Sea grain deal. The agreement allowed for the safe passage of food goods from war-torn regions to the rest of the world.

Ukraine’s Danube ports, including Reni and Izmail, accounted for around a third of all grain exports from the country before the Black Sea deal fell through.

Wheat prices have already risen over heightened risk to grain exports. Benchmark Chicago wheat futures were up 1.4% to to $6.06 a bushel after news of the latest attacks broke on Wednesday morning.

Since quitting the deal, the Kremlin has ramped up attacks on its neighbour’s export infrastructure and routes, and has threatened to treat any ships leaving Ukraine as potential military targets as it pushes for a bigger slice of global grain exports.

Despite the threats from Moscow, a container ship carrying over 30,000 tonnes of cargo – including food products – was seen setting off from the port of Odesa on Wednesday morning.

Pictures released by Ukraine’s Infrastructure Ministry Press Office showed container ship Joseph Schulte, which had been stuck in the port since February last year, managed to leave through a temporary corridor established between Ukraine and the International Maritime Organisation for merchant vessels.

It is unclear how Russia will respond to the move.

Earlier this week, a round of missiles aimed at Odesa’s downtown area destroyed a Fozzy supermarket. “The Odesa Fozzy building, equipment, and merchandise have all been consumed by fire. The store is currently non-operational,” the company said in a press statement.