Live Updates: Russia’s War in Ukraine
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has effectively halted all maritime trade through Ukrainian ports, according to recently declassified US intelligence, cutting off a key export product for Ukraine and risking a global food crisis.
In the months following Russia’s decision to invade in February, it established an “effective blockade” in the northern third of the Black Sea, according to a US official who provided a declassified map of the area to CNN as covered with anonymity.
The map analyzes the density of ships entering and leaving Ukrainian ports before and after the start of the conflict, showing an almost total drop in commercial traffic to the Black Sea and Sea of Azov ports after the start of the invasion . . A third map provides a current visualization of the density of Russian warships clustered in the Black Sea off the coast of Ukraine, highlighting “hotspots of activity”, according to the US official.
“The impact of Russia’s actions cannot be underestimated as Ukraine’s maritime exports are vital to global food security,” the US official said, echoing the general assessment of Western analysts and government officials.
Ukraine provides about 10% of global wheat exports, the official noted, the vast majority of which leaves the country from Black Sea ports.
A bit of context: Before the war, Ukraine was the world’s fourth-largest corn exporter and fifth-largest wheat exporter, according to the US State Department. Nearly 30% of the world’s wheat trade came from Russia and Ukraine alone.
The United Nations World Food Program — that helps fight global food insecurity — buys about half of its wheat from Ukraine each year and has warned of dire consequences if Ukrainian ports are not open.
Last week, CNN reported that the United States and its allies were leading discussions on how to safely develop routes to transport grain from Ukraine amid concerns about global food supplies. New satellite images reported by CNN on Monday appear to support Ukrainian claims that Russia is also stealing unused grain stocks from commercial ports.
Since the beginning of the conflict, Russia has intimidated commercial traffic, sometimes obstructed safe passage to Ukraine through the Kerch Strait and, more visibly, stationed warships off the Ukrainian coast and rammed ports. Ukrainians, the US official said.
CNN’s Alex Marquardt contributed to this post