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News this weekend that Ukrainian forces had pushed to the Russian border with the country in the Kharkiv oblast is likely to provoke a big reaction from Russian President Vladimir Putin. It’s not just that Ukrainian forces have advanced but that they have racked up gains of as much as 70 kilometers amidst reports that Russian soldiers have fled after throwing down their weapons.

This is a major embarrassment and Russia’s president doesn’t react well to embarrassments.

Already Russian military forces have unleashed rocket and bomb attacks on the city of Kharkiv, targeting power plants and other civilian infrastructure.

I don’t expect Putin’s response to stop there.

Look for Putin to continue to pull back or undermine the agreement brokered by Turkey that has allowed some exports of grain to leave Ukraine’s Black Sea ports. Even before recent military events, Putin had criticized the deal with suggestions that grain shipments were headed to European nations rather than to hungry undeveloped populations. I would not be surprised to see the agreement collapse. Which would, of course, push gain prices high.

Also look for more efforts to restrict Russian shipments of natural gas, oil, and coal to Europe. Given existing measures, it’s not clear to me that Russia could inflict further significant damage, but I’m sure that Putin will try anything he can think of to ramp up the costs to European nations of backing Ukraine.

Today as of 12:30 New York time, NYMEX natural gas futures for October delivery were up 4.20%. West Texas Intermediate crude was higher by 1.50% and Brent crude had gained 1.64%.

The U.S. Natural Gas Fund, the ETF that I use in my portfolios for exposure to natural gas prices, was up 3.51%.

The picture for grain commodities was mixed with NYMEX corn up 1.28% and wheat down 1.06%.