Fertilizer pipeline destroyed after Ukrainian dam…world grain supply ‘dark cloud’

The destruction of the Kahowka Dam in Ukraine has led to fears of reduced grain production and has also destroyed a pipeline for fertilizer raw materials from Russia that is critical to maintaining the Black Sea Grain Agreement. This has raised fears of disruption to Ukrainian and Russian grain and fertilizer production and exports.

The Russian Defense Ministry claimed on Sept. 7 (local time) that Ukraine destroyed part of a pipeline for ammonia, a raw material for fertilizer, that connects Tolyatti in western Russia to Odessa on Ukraine’s Black Sea coast, Reuters and other news outlets reported. “On the night of the 5th, the pipeline was destroyed in the Masyutiukha area of Kharkiv Oblast (northeastern Ukraine), and it was the work of a Ukrainian sabotage and reconnaissance group,” the Defense Ministry claimed. A Defense Ministry spokesperson characterized it as a terrorist act. In a statement released on social media, the governor of Kharkiv Oblast, Oleh Sinekhandau, countered that the pipeline was destroyed by a Russian airstrike.

The area where the pipeline was destroyed borders Russia’s Belgorod region, which has seen recent fighting between pro-Ukrainian militants and Russian forces안전놀이터. The border area has also seen frequent attacks using artillery and drones.

The pipeline is a 2,470-kilometer-long ammonia transportation facility that runs from Tolyatti to the Black Sea coastal port city of Yuzhne. Russia has been using the pipeline to send ammonia to Yuzhne’s port of Piudeni, where it is then exported by ship around the world. Ukraine shut down the pipeline after Russia’s invasion in late February last year, disrupting Russian exports of the fertilizer ingredient.

The destruction of the pipeline is an obstacle to the extension and expansion of the Black Sea Grain Agreement that Ukraine and Russia signed last July. Russia has demanded that the pipeline be restarted and said that if its demands are not met, it will not extend the Black Sea Grain Agreement, which was extended by two months on May 17. As the dispute escalated, the United Nations proposed a new agreement to the two countries late last month that would allow Russian ammonia exports and expand Ukrainian grain exports. The destruction of the pipeline ahead of discussions on the new agreement has created a new stumbling block in the negotiations.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said it would take at least one to three months to repair the ammonia pipeline, emphasizing that it was a crucial part of the implementation of the Black Sea Grain Agreement. “This facility is crucial for global food security,” she said, adding that the pipeline has been transporting two million tons of the raw material for fertilizer production annually.

The controversy over the destruction of the ammonia pipeline threatens to derail the extension of the Black Sea Grain Agreement, which, coupled with the disruption of grain production following the destruction of the Kahowka Dam in Ukraine’s Kherson Oblast, could trigger a global grain crisis. Ukraine and Russia are major exporters of wheat and corn, and Russia is the world’s number one exporter of nitrogen fertilizer. The U.N. World Food Program (WFP) warned earlier in the day that flooding from the Kahowka Dam collapse would threaten global food supplies. “The dam’s collapse has caused massive flooding, destroying newly planted grain,” said Martin Frick, WFP’s Country Director for Germany. “This is a loss of hope for the world’s 345 million hungry people who depend on Ukrainian grain.”