Russia-Ukraine war news: Odessa grain buildings hit; Poland holds military parade

Polish soldiers take part in a military parade Tuesday in Warsaw. (Wojtek Radwanski/AFP/Getty Images)

Ukraine’s infrastructure minister said Wednesday that a Hong Kong-flagged ship carrying food had left the southern port of Odessa — the first container since Russia’s withdrawal from the grain deal to use a new “temporary” shipping corridor through the Black Sea.

A NATO official on Wednesday apologized for saying that Ukraine should cede land to become a member of the military alliance and called his comments “a mistake,” Dutch media outlets reported.

Russian forces carried out “waves” of drone attacks in southern Ukraine overnight, destroying warehouses and granaries at the Danube River port of Reni, the regional governor said Wednesday. Nobody was injured, he added.

Here’s the latest on the war and its impact across the globe.

NATO official Stian Jenssen walked back comments made Tuesday — in which he suggested Ukraine cede land for membership in the alliance — calling them “part of a larger discussion about possible future scenarios in Ukraine, and I shouldn’t have said it that way,” the Norwegian newspaper VG reported Wednesday. His original comments stirred ire in Kyiv. Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak called the idea “ridiculous” on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter. Ukrainian Foreign Ministry spokesman Oleg Nikolenko posted on Facebook that “the conscious or unconscious participation of NATO officials in shaping the narrative” around Ukraine ceding land “plays into the hands of Russia.”

The main target of the overnight strikes was “port and grain infrastructure,” said Oleh Kiper, governor of the Odessa region. The attacks occurred south of the port city of Odessa, which has increasingly come under Russian attack since last month, after the Kremlin left the grain deal backed by the United Nations that enabled Ukraine to send exports through Russian-controlled parts of the Black Sea. The latest attacks were launched with Iranian-made Shahed drones, Ukraine’s military said.

Ukrainian officials do not expect to have F-16s this fall or winter, Yuri Ihnat, spokesman for the Ukrainian air force, said during a telethon on Wednesday. “We understand that our pilots will be learning soon,” Ihnat said. “And at the same time, our air defence needs to be stronger.”

NATO member Poland touted its state-of-the-art fighter jets and other weaponry at its largest military parade since the Cold War — a display of strength as fighting continues next door between Russia and Ukraine. “The defense of our eastern border, the border of the European Union and of NATO, is today a key element of Poland’s state interest,” President Andrzej Duda said at the event commemorating the 1920 Battle of Warsaw, when Polish troops stopped Bolshevik forces from advancing on Europe. The Polish military has grown by about 78,000 troops over the past eight years, Duda said.

Lithuania will temporarily close two land crossings with Belarus “to reduce potential threats along the border” in response to the Russian mercenary group Wagner’s relocation, Lithuanian Interior Minister Agne Bilotaite said in a statement Wednesday. Wagner moved to Belarus in July after a failed mutiny by the group’s founder, former Kremlin-insider Yevgeniy Prigozhin. The closures “will enable border officers to redistribute their capacities at the border with Belarus and pay even larger attention to the protection of the state border,” Bilotaite said. Last week, similarly citing Wagner, Poland said it would send 10,000 troops to its border with Belarus.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un vowed to strengthen bonds with Moscow in a letter he wrote to Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to the state-run Korean Central News Agency. In the letter, Kim said the two countries would continue to “smash the imperialists’ arbitrary practices and hegemony,” KCNA reported.

The European Union will redirect $147 million from programs planned for Russia and Belarus toward projects aimed at boosting ties between Ukraine and Moldova. The funding was part of Interreg, a program that focuses on fostering interregional cooperation to tackle cross-border issues. According to a European Commission statement Wednesday, “The decision to cancel the originally envisaged cooperation with Russia and Belarus … is the result of the brutal war of Russia against Ukraine.” The funding will support such activities as the development of cross-border transport links, health services, education and research projects.

The American rock band the Killers apologized after lead singer Brandon Flowers invited a Russian fan onto the stage as a drummer during a concert on the Black Sea coast of Georgia and called the audience “brothers and sisters,” prompting some audience members to boo and walk out of the show. Many in the crowd were furious at Flowers’s implication that Russians are brothers to Georgia, a nation that Moscow invaded in 2008. The Killers’ apology, which said it was “never our intention to offend anyone,” also prompted criticism over its failure to mention the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The concert venue in the coastal town of Shekvetili also apologized in a Facebook post and said it did not share the band’s position, calling Russia “the occupier.”

Gruesome and frequent mine injuries are haunting doctors in Ukraine: Confronted with bodies ripped to pieces and limbs mangled beyond recognition, doctors working in Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia region are left with no choice but to live through the mental anguish of amputation after amputation, Eve Sampson reports.

Heavily mined Russian defenses have slowed Ukraine’s attack to a bloody, painstaking crawl, and hard-won gains come at the cost of mine blast injuries. “The mines are just everywhere,” Ukrainian military surgeon Dmytro Mialkovskyi told The Washington Post from a hospital in Zaporizhzhia.

Robyn Dixon and Beatriz Ríos contributed to this report.

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