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Russia launched drone strikes on Ukraine’s Danube ports of Reni and Izmail on 23 July, destroying grain silos and storage capacity as well as stock intended for loading, AgriCensus reported on 24 July.

The Danube is now Ukraine’s main export route for grains and oilseeds since Russia’s 17 July withdrawal from the Black Sea Grain Initiative (BSGI), which had facilitated the safe passage of some 33M tonnes of grain and other foodstuffs from the Ukrainian ports of Pivdennyi, Odessa and Choronomorsk since it first came into effect in July 2022.

The drone attacks follow a rise in Russian strikes on infrastructure associated with Ukrainian grain exports in the past week, the Guardian wrote on 24 July.

Video posted on social media showed large explosions in Reni port, situated by Lake Cahul and some 5km from the border with Romania.

The Guardian said while the Danube had grown in importance since Russia invaded Ukraine last February, it could only replace 50% of Odessa’s port capacity, especially because it was a shallower waterway.

Trade sources said Reni port was partially working with hours of operation limited to 0800-1900 local time, rather than the 24-hour operations that had been in place, AgriCensus wrote.

All other ports in the Danube region (Izmail, Kylia) were said to be operating normally, alongside the Sulina canal, controlled by Romania, and the Bystre canal - both of which link the Danube river with the Black Sea, the report added.

However, the risk associated with moving grain out of the Danube ports had increased and could impact the number of vessels willing to go to the region, as well as potentially pushing up freight prices.