Following Russia’s declaration that it would classify ships bound for Ukrainian ports as potential military targets, wheat prices have increased significantly on international markets.
On Monday, Moscow withdrew from a UN agreement that guaranteed grain supplies traveling across the Black Sea would be secure.
Russia has been shelling Ukraine’s grain storage facilities in Odesa and other locations for the past three nights.
Additionally, Moscow issued a warning that starting on Thursday, any ships sailing there would be viewed as supporting “the Kyiv regime”.
Adam Hodge, a spokesman for the White House, suggested that Russia was preparing to attack civilian ships while blaming Ukraine.
Russia had laid more sea mines in the approaches to Ukrainian ports, he said, as part of a co-ordinated Russian effort to justify attacking civilian ships.
The Kremlin did not immediately respond to the allegation.
Wheat prices on the European stock exchange soared by 8.2% on Wednesday from the previous day, to €253.75 (£220; $284) per tonne, while corn prices were up 5.4%.
US wheat futures jumped 8.5% – their highest daily rise since just after Russia’s February 2022 invasion of Ukraine.
Vladimir Putin, the president, earlier declared that if his demands were granted, he would instantly rejoin the global grain accord. They include removing restrictions on the export of grain and fertilizer from Russia and re-establishing connectivity between the Russian agricultural bank and the world payment system.
Over 20 people were hurt in Odesa and Mykolaiv by Russian airstrikes that persisted for a third night on Black Sea coastal communities.
Governor of the Mykolaiv region Vitaliy Kim reported that 19 persons, including children, had been injured there. Targeted apartment buildings included one with the second and upper floors partially destroyed.