The Russian invasion of Ukraine has halted all maritime trade in Ukrainian ports, according to recently released US intelligence, shutting down a critical export commodity for Ukraine and threatening a global food crisis.
In the months since Russia invaded in February, it has put in place an “effective blockade” in the northern third of the Black Sea, according to a US official who provided DailyExpertNews with a declassified map of the region on condition of anonymity.
The map analyzes the density of ships entering and leaving Ukrainian ports before and after the start of the conflict, showing an almost complete decline in commercial traffic to ports in the Black Sea and Sea of Azov after the start of the invasion. A third map provides a current visualization of the density of Russian naval vessels clustered in the Black Sea off the coast of Ukraine, highlighting “hotbeds of activity,” the US official said.
“The impact of Russia’s actions cannot be underestimated, as Ukraine’s overseas exports are vital to global food security,” the US official said, echoing the broad assessment of Western analysts and government officials.
Ukraine provides about 10% of the world’s wheat exports, the official noted, the vast majority of which leave the country from its Black Sea ports.
Some context: Before the war, Ukraine was the world’s fourth largest exporter of corn and the fifth largest exporter of wheat, according to the US State Department. Nearly 30% of world wheat trade came from Russia and Ukraine alone.
The United Nations World Food Programme † that helps fight global food insecurity † buys about half of its wheat from Ukraine every year and has warned of serious consequences if Ukrainian ports are not opened.
Last week, DailyExpertNews reported that the US and allies are in talks to develop safe routes to transport grain from Ukraine amid concerns over global food supplies. New satellite images reported by DailyExpertNews on Monday seem to support Ukrainian claims that Russia is also stealing grain stocks that have stood still in commercial ports.
Since the start of the conflict, Russia has intimidated commercial traffic, occasionally obstructed safe passage to Ukraine through the Kerch Strait and, most visibly, stationed warships off the coast of Ukraine and thrashed Ukrainian ports, the US official said.
Alex Marquardt of DailyExpertNews contributed to this post