Russia bombed Ukrainian ports for a fourth straight night on Friday, striking granaries in Odessa and making a show of naval might on the Black Sea in a deepening conflict that threatens a vital part of the global food supply.

The Kremlin this week withdrew from a year-old agreement that allows ships carrying food from Ukrainian ports to bypass a Russian blockade, and began a concentrated bombing of facilities used to ship grain and cooking oil across the Black Sea. The Russian military has warned that any ships trying to reach Ukraine will be treated as hostile, and their nations “will be considered to be involved in the Ukrainian conflict on the side of the Kyiv regime.”

On Friday, Russia conducted naval exercises in the northwestern Black Sea – the part near the coast of Ukraine still holds – supporting the suggestion that it could capture or destroy cargo ships of non-combatant nations. Russia’s Defense Ministry said in a statement that a missile boat fired anti-ship cruise missiles and destroyed a “mock target” ship, while ships and aircraft of the Black Sea Fleet “practiced isolating an area temporarily closed to navigation” and conducted an exercise “to intercept a mock intruder ship.”

Missile attacks around dawn destroyed 100 tons of peas and 20 tons of barley at the port in Odessa, according to Oleg Kiper, the head of the regional military administration. That came two days after an attack on a port just outside Odessa destroyed 60,000 tonnes of grain to be loaded onto ships, the government said – enough to feed more than 270,000 people for a year, according to the World Food Program.

“The new wave of attacks against Ukrainian ports risks having far-reaching effects on global food security, especially in developing countries,” said Rosemary DiCarlo, the United Nations under-secretary-general, at an emergency meeting of the Security Council on Friday. “Furthermore, as we have repeatedly stated, attacks against civilian infrastructure may constitute a violation of international law.”

The UN humanitarian chief, Martin Griffiths, warned the council that even escalating rhetoric threatens to increase food shortages and food instability around the world. Prices have risen this week, but not as sharply as when the war began, and economists say the impact could be significant but not as severe because global supplies are more plentiful. Ukraine boosted its overland exports, but not nearly enough to make up for the loss of a ship.

Russia would be willing to renew the agreement, its representative at the UN meeting said, but only if other nations lift penalties imposed on it for invading Ukraine 17 months ago – conditions not likely to be met.

On Friday, Russia’s central bank signaled concern about its economy, in particular inflation, raising its benchmark interest rate a full percentage point, to 8.5 percent – a much larger increase than analysts had expected. The central bank projected a relatively healthy 2.5 percent economic growth this year, after contracting at a similar pace last year. But the rebound was fueled by the government pumping money into the economy with sharply higher military spending, including payments to soldiers and their families, and social programs such as mortgage subsidies.

Russians have more money to spend but not enough to spend it, spurring inflation that the central bank has predicted will reach 5 to 6.5 percent this year. Sanctions have made it difficult for businesses to import products, including manufacturing equipment, and the conscription or flight from the country of hundreds of thousands of people has made it difficult to hire workers.

Ukraine and Russia have long produced an important part of the global food supply – before the war, they accounted for about a quarter of the world’s wheat and barley exports and much of its cooking oil, especially sunflower oil, and Russia was the largest supplier of fertilizer. Russia’s blockade of Ukraine, and Western sanctions against Russia, caused their exports to drop sharply early last year, exacerbating shortages and price spikes around the world, and threatening famine in some areas, particularly in East Africa.

The Black Sea Grain Initiative, brokered in July 2022 by the United Nations and Turkey, allowed ships carrying food to leave Ukrainian ports, and contained provisions to enable Russian agricultural exports. But the Kremlin complained that the elements benefiting Russia were woefully inadequate or not fully honoured, supporting exports and forcing Russian producers to sell to the world at below-market prices – favoring European competitors.

For months, Moscow has made a series of demands to continue the grain initiative: Allow Russia’s state-owned agricultural bank to rejoin the SWIFT messaging system, which enables international transactions; ensure that foreign insurance and shipping companies can do business with Russian agricultural exporters without violating sanctions; allow Russia to resume importing spare parts for agricultural equipment; lift sanctions against Russian fertilizer producers and their executives; and restore a pipeline carrying Russian ammonia to Odessa.

There must be a “real and not theoretical lifting of sanctions,” Russia’s deputy ambassador to the United Nations, Dmitry Polyanskiy, said at the Security Council meeting on Friday, citing some of the same demands. “As soon as all these conditions are met, we will immediately reach the agreement.”

But Russia’s actions go far beyond just halting the grain deal, threatening another Black Sea shipping and hurting Ukraine’s ability to ship food by sea in the near future, launching wave after wave of missiles and attack drones at port facilities this week. Russian missile and artillery attacks on other parts of the country overnight killed eight people, Ukrainian officials said.

On Friday, speaking at the Aspen Security Forum, Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken said, “Russia is doing something really senseless with weapons procurement.”

In Moscow, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Vershinin told reporters at a briefing that the grain deal would not be revived unless Russian demands were met, and that in the meantime Russia might stop and inspect civilian ships on the Black Sea for military cargo.

On Thursday, the White House warned that Moscow could be preparing a false flag operation to attack civilian ships and blame Ukraine. The threats slowed maritime traffic in the area. Tracking data shows that ships headed for the Black Sea are sitting in ports in Istanbul, waiting to see if an agreement to resume grain shipments can be reached.

Mr. Vershinin said there were no talks yet, but that President Vladimir V. Putin and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey were expected to discuss the issue soon.

He accused Ukraine of abusing the safe passage corridor meant for grain ships to launch attack drones against a naval base in Russian-occupied Crimea, and the bridge connecting Crimea to Russia itself. Ukraine has denied using the corridor for military purposes.

The Institute for the Study of War, based in Washington, wrote in assessment published Thursday night that “the Kremlin likely views the Black Sea Grain Initiative as one of its few remaining avenues of leverage against the West.” Russia, it added, “is trying to create a sense of urgency by conducting intensifying strikes against Ukrainian port and grain infrastructure and threatening to strike civilian ships.”

Russia has been on edge since last month’s failed uprising by Wagner’s mercenary group against the military leadership, which prompted the ouster of some top commanders and called into question what was seen as Mr. Putin’s iron grip.

“For many Russians watching this, accustomed to this image of Putin as the arbiter of order, the question was, ‘Does the emperor have no clothes?'” the CIA director, William J. Burns, told the Aspen Security Forum on Friday, in his most extensive public comments on the uprising. “Or, at the very least, ‘Why is it taking so long for him to get dressed?'”

Mr. Burns said he expected Mr. Putin to eventually punish Wagner’s leader, Yevgeny V. Prigozhin, who remained free and unharmed.

Igor Girkin, an ultranationalist commentator who was a pro-war critic of the way the invasion was carried out, was arrested on Friday, signaling that the one form of public dissent the government has allowed may no longer be allowed. Prosecutors accused him of spreading public appeals to engage in extremist activities, punishable by up to five years in prison, and asked a Moscow court to keep him in pre-trial detention.

Belarus, Russia’s closest ally, has received a number of Wagner fighters in the past few weeks, and they are training Belarusian special operations forces, the government of Belarus said on Thursday. The training camp is only three miles from Poland, a NATO member with deep distrust for both Belarus and Russia.

In response, Poland said on Friday it would move military forces near the border with Belarus. Mr Putin, in turn, lashed out at Poland, saying Russia would respond to “aggression” against Belarus “with all the means at our disposal”.

Ivan Nechepurenko reported from Tbilisi, Georgia, Victoria Kim from Seoul and Farnaz Fassihi and Richard Pérez-Peña from New York. Reporting was contributed by Anatoly Kurmanaev from Berlin; Neil MacFarquhar, Gaya Gupta and James C. McKinley Jr. from New York; Eric Schmitt, David E. Sanger and Julian E. Barnes from Aspen, Colo.; Shashank Bengali from London and Erin Mendell from Seoul.

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