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Global wheat and corn prices soared after Russia ripped up the grain deal it sealed with Ukraine a year ago and threatened to attack any ship in the Black Sea headed for a Ukrainian port. For good measure, Russia also pummeled Ukraine’s largest port, Odesa, with drones and missiles, destroying tens of thousands of tons of grains and critical infrastructure.

It wasn’t the first time Russia wanted to scrap the agreement, which has allowed Ukraine’s exports of wheat, corn and other foodstuffs to sail past Russia’s naval blockade to nations that desperately need them. But to Anna Nagurney, a supply chain expert at UMass Amherst and co-chair of the board of directors at the Kyiv School of Economics, this time feels different.

In today’s top story, she explains why Russia is backing out of the deal and why Odesa and other Ukrainian Black Sea ports are so important to feeding the world.

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Bryan Keogh

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The grain deal allowed Ukrainian corn and other products to reach ports in Lebanon and elsewhere. AP Photo/Hassan Ammar

Why Russia pulled out of its grain deal with Ukraine – and what that means for the global food system

Anna Nagurney, UMass Amherst

Russia’s move, which it followed by bombing the key port city of Odesa and threatening to attack any ship sailing for Ukraine, sent global food prices skyrocketing.

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