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Ukraine live briefing: Zelensky accuses Russia of targeting grain facilities

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Ukraine live briefing: Zelensky accuses Russia of targeting grain facilities

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Firefighters at a building hit by a Russian drone attack in Ukraine’s Odessa region on Wednesday, in a screenshot from video. (Ukraine’s Operational Command South/Reuters)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky accused Russia of carrying out further attacks on the country’s ports and grain infrastructure overnight, targeting the south in particular. The Ukrainian Defense Ministry tweeted Wednesday that a grain silo in the inland port of Izmail — a key alternative to Black Sea ports for Ukrainian exports — was damaged. Russia has repeatedly targeted port facilities since withdrawing from a U.N.-backed grain deal last month, blocking vital exports to many countries.

Ukraine’s counteroffensive against Russia is moving forward, the Pentagon said in response to media questions about whether Ukraine had made significant gains. “It has and will continue to be a tough fight for them,” Air Force Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder told reporters.

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

The U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Bridget Brink, said the overnight strikes against port infrastructure demonstrated Russia’s disregard for civilians. “Russia has no desire for peace, no thought for civilian safety, and no regard for people around the world who rely on food from Ukraine,” she tweeted Wednesday. The attacks also targeted the capital, Kyiv, according to the city’s mayor, Vitali Klitschko, who said wreckage from a drone damaged a building but no one was hurt.

Ryder said Ukraine’s counteroffensive would be “a marathon and not a sprint,” echoing recent comments by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin. Ryder said he was confident that Ukraine will continue to have the means to wage its counteroffensive. On Wednesday, the Russian-appointed governor of Zaporizhzhia, Yevgeny Balitsky, wrote on Telegram that Ukrainian forces tried to break through Russian lines in the southeastern region but were unsuccessful. The Washington Post was unable to verify the claim.

Ukrainian law enforcement officials announced that they were investigating a large-scale draft evasion scheme involving falsified medical certificates declaring participants unfit for service. Those involved, including officials from the Bilhorod-Dnistrovskyi territorial recruitment center and members of the military medical commission, also destroyed official documentation in an effort to cover up their activities, the national police reported on Tuesday.

Ukraine’s Economy Ministry expects its economy to grow about 5 percent in 2024, a senior ministry official said, according to Reuters. Natalia Horshkova, chief of the ministry’s department for strategic planning and macroeconomic forecasting, said the growth will be fueled by reconstruction efforts and consumer spending. The ministry expects the war to end in 2024 and forecast Ukraine’s growth this year to be 2.8 percent. Ukraine’s economy contracted by more than 30 percent in 2022.

Ukraine’s birthrate has declined during the war. Almost 97,000 children were born in Ukraine during the first six months of the year, which is 28 percent fewer than the 135,000 babies born in the first six months of 2021, according to Opendatabot, a Ukrainian data website. Birthrates have been falling since 2013 by about 7 percent each year. Nearly 210,000 babies were born last year. In 2021, close to 278,000 babies were born.

Russian shelling hit a medical facility in Kherson, killing a doctor, injuring a nurse and damaging a surgical department there, Oleksandr Prokudin, the region’s governor, said in a statement.

Belarusian helicopters violated Polish airspace during a training exercise on Tuesday, Poland’s Defense Ministry said in a statement. The Belarusian Defense Ministry rebutted those claims, calling them “far-fetched.” Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Błaszczak ordered more soldiers along the border.

Turkmenistan’s flagship airline has suspended flights to Moscow over safety concerns, hours after drones targeted a skyscraper in the Russian capital. “Due to the situation in the Moscow air zone, and based on a risk assessment in order to ensure flight safety, all Turkmenistan Airlines flights on the Ashgabat-Moscow-Ashgabat route will be suspended,” said the airline said , according to Reuters. The statement did not specify how long the suspension would be in force.

Ukraine summoned Poland’s ambassador to its Foreign Ministry after a senior Polish official said Ukraine should “start appreciating” the country’s help. “During the meeting, it was emphasized that the statements about the alleged ingratitude of the Ukrainians for the assistance of the Republic of Poland do not reflect reality and as such are unacceptable,” the Ukrainian ministry said in a statement. In response, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said the summoning of the Polish ambassador should never have happened.

Drones hit glitzy Moscow buildings as Ukraine says Russians should feel war: The Moscow-City complex, nestled west of the city center and decorated with glittering skyscrapers, has been hit repeatedly by drone attacks in recent days, report Francesca Ebel, Mary Ilyushina and Natalia Abbakumova. Among them is the IQ-quarter tower, which houses several government ministry offices. In an attack on Sunday, offices of a government ministry appeared to suffer serious damage, according to photographs published on Russian media.

In the same complex, at least 19 apartments have been registered to the cousin of Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad and the wife of another one of his cousins since 2013, according to the anti-corruption organization Global Witness.



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