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An ear of wheat in a field near the village of Hrebeni in the Kyiv region

REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko

Will Putin eat the world’s bread?

The global food industry has gone bonkers. Since Russia invaded Ukraine last month, global wheat prices have gone through the roof, and sunflower oil is becoming a rare delicacy.

The looming global food crisis has been years in the making. Extreme weather events linked to climate change and pandemic-induced supply chain issues had already caused shortages and sent prices surging. The war in Ukraine has made a bad situation much worse. But how bad might things get, and who holds all the cards?

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A view shows cars and a building of a hospital destroyed by a Russian air strike in Mariupol, Ukraine.

Ukraine National Police/Handout via REUTERS

What We're Watching: Ukrainian city under siege, Ripple Effects, Afghan railway

Zelensky calls hospital strike in Mariupol an ‘atrocity’

Children and mothers fall victim. On Wednesday, Russian bombs and missiles ravaged the strategic Black Sea port city of Mariupol in southeastern Ukraine, just 35 miles from the Russian border. In one of the war’s most gruesome moments thus far, a children’s hospital and birthing center were badly damaged by munitions, reportedly killing two adults and one child and injuring several others. A Ukrainian official said the attack occurred during an agreed-upon ceasefire with Russia. The town’s administrative center was also badly damaged. If the city falls, Russia would have all but established a “land bridge” to Crimea.

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Paige Fusco

The Graphic Truth: Cereal killer — wheat prices amid Ukraine crisis

Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine will ripple throughout the global economy in many ways, but one immediate concern is that it could send food prices soaring in some parts of the world. That's because Russia is the world's largest wheat exporter, and the two warring countries together account for more than a quarter of global exports. Here's a look at how wheat prices rose as the crisis escalated, along with a snapshot of the countries most vulnerable to price hikes or supply disruptions.

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