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Russia Attacks Ukraine’s Danube Port After Reports of Ships Arriving

Damaged building in port of Izmail, Ukraine
Izmail's port infrastructure including a building housing homeless families was heavily damaged along with grain storage (Ukraine Defense Ministry)

Published Aug 2, 2023 12:59 PM by The Maritime Executive

Russian attacked Ukraine’s Danube seaport at Izmail overnight in the latest effort to interrupt the export of grain. The attack, which was only the second on the port lying on the border with Romania, came after reports that several smaller, internationally-owned ships had crossed the Black Sea and were planning to load grain from the port.

The Defense Ministry of Ukraine reported that more than 40,000 tons of grain stored in the silos and warehouses at Izmail was damaged. They released pictures showing holes in the silos, sheds covering the grain knocked over, and grain spilled on the ground saying “Russia’s actions are destroying our grain reserves and fueling the risk of global hunger.”

 

 

 

It appeared to be a series of drone attacks targeting specifically Izmail, which is the primary port on the Danube used for the exports. Video from the Romanian side of the river showed a series of explosions and several fires burning in different parts of the port and the city.  While a relatively small port only able to handle the smaller, coastal vessels instead of the large bulkers that had been exporting grain for the past year under the UN-led export agreement, Izmail and neighboring Reni, another port further upstream, were emerging as Ukraine’s lifeline for the grain exports.

In addition to the damage to the grain silos and loading equipment, another picture shows devastation to the main passenger terminal and administration building in the port of Izmail. There is also video footage of firefighting and sporadic damage around the city with most reports saying there were no injuries. One unconfirmed posting said however that a medical facility was also struck and that a young doctor who was on his first day after residency was killed. The Izmail Seafarers Center was also hit by the Russian drone attack. The center, previously funded by the ITF Seafarers Trust, has been housing families made homeless by bombing in other parts of the country. Residents and staff, the Seafarers' Trust reports, took shelter in the basement and there were no casualties despite the significant damage done to the building.

 

 

 

The American ambassador, Bridget Brink posted pictures and a message on social media citing the recent attacks on Odesa, Reni, and now Izmail. “As Russia continues to weaponize food, these escalatory attacks also represent a total assault on Ukraine’s ability to get badly needed grain to people around the world.”

Reni and Ismail had also been attacked 10 days ago. Both ports were hit by drones shortly after Russia ended the Black Sea grain export agreement. One report said at least one Romanian ship suffered minor damage while other vessels fled to the Romanian side of the Danube.

Reuters is citing a report from the Russian state news agency RIA that said the Ukrainian port and grain infrastructure was hit because they were being used as cover for foreign mercenaries and military hardware. Reuters also cited sources saying the port of Izmail was closed but port officials denied it in a social media posting saying the port’s infrastructure was operating and they were already beginning repairs.

Hours after the attacks, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said he had spoken to Vladimir Putin. He said Putin would soon visit Turkey and that he was continuing to place pressure on Russia to rejoin the grain agreement. 

The commodities markets reacted to the news of the latest attacks with Reuters reporting grain prices jumped nearly seven percent but later fell back while remaining up nearly two percent. The price of corn was also reported to be up on news of last night’s attacks.