After meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin declined to rejoin the Black Sea Grain Initiative that Moscow abandoned in July, deepening a problem for global food security. Turkish officials had expressed cautious optimism before the Sochi meeting, saying a deal to allow the export of grain from blockaded Ukrainian Black Sea ports “is necessary for the whole world,” according to Turkey’s state-owned Anadolu Agency. After the negotiations, Erdogan said Ukraine needed to compromise with Russia on the deal, Anadolu reported.
Putin did announce that Turkey would process grain that would be sent to some of the world’s poorest countries. Details of that agreement, which the Russian president said would involve Qatar, were not immediately available.
Here’s the latest on the war and its ripple effects across the globe.
Russia intends to send 1 million tons of grain to Turkey for delivery to the world’s poorest countries, Putin said after talks with Erdogan, but the two leaders had not agreed to reinstate the larger grain deal that had been brokered by Russia, Turkey, Ukraine and the United Nations. Putin instead reiterated that Russia would rejoin the grain deal only when restrictions on Russian exports are lifted. Erdogan added that there is no alternative to the deal and that they must correct its “deficiencies,” Anadolu reported, though it’s not clear which points he was referring to.
President Volodymyr Zelensky announced that Rustem Umerov, head of Ukraine’s main privatization fund, will replace Oleksii Reznikov as the country’s defense minister. Zelensky said the ministry needs “new approaches.” The shake-up has been in the works for months. Parliament’s defense committee advanced Reznikov’s resignation to the full legislature on Monday.
Umerov, a former member of parliament who has been involved in Russia-Ukraine negotiations, will replace Reznikov as defense minister if the full parliament approves the move this week, which Zelensky said he expects to happen. The reshuffle comes amid a wider anti-corruption campaign, with Zelensky’s government seeking to eliminate graft and convince foreign donors that their money is not lost to malfeasance. Reznikov is not personally accused of corruption, but his ministry has faced graft allegations including purchasing food for the country’s armed forces at inflated prices.
Russia will not hold its Zapad, or West, military exercise this year as it fights a real war, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said Monday. “This year we have an exercise in Ukraine,” he told reporters. The large-scale military drill, which in 2021 involved 200,000 troops, was a key mobilization effort for the Soviet Union.
Romania’s Defense Ministry dismissed claims that Russian drones entered its country during an attack on Ukrainian ports on the Danube River. It is possible that Romanian territory was accidentally hit in the overnight strikes, but the country’s foreign minister said at a news conference that they did not pose “any direct military threats” against Romania. The denial came shortly after Ukrainian Foreign Ministry spokesman Oleg Nikolenko wrote Monday on Facebook that Russian drones “fell and detonated” on Romanian territory. Romania, a NATO member, condemned the attack.
Russia is discussing the possibility of holding a joint naval exercise with North Korea, Shoigu told reporters Monday. During a visit to North Korea, Shoigu proposed a trilateral exercise that would include China, according to a report from South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency. Russia and North Korea have been discussing potential weapons shipments, according to U.S. officials.
A Russian Mi-8 helicopter pilot who defected in late August has been identified as 28-year-old Maksym Kuzminov, Kyiv’s Main Directorate of Intelligence said Sunday. Kuzminov, who said he rejected Russia’s actions in Ukraine, called on other Russian pilots to follow his example, according to the intelligence agency.
The German navy will host joint exercises this month with troops from 14 NATO nations, including future member Sweden. The 3,200 troops will train off the coast of Latvia and Estonia, Germany’s navy said in a news release. It will mark the first time “a realistic scenario is being practiced within the framework of alliance defense,” Rear Adm. Stephan Haisch said in the announcement. The countries participating are Italy, France, Finland, Estonia, Denmark, Canada, Belgium, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Poland, Sweden, the United States and Germany.
Russian attacks killed at least five people in Ukraine over the weekend, including three in Donetsk, one in Kherson and one in Sumy, according to local authorities. One of the attacks destroyed the house of an elderly couple — the 84-year-old husband died under the rubble, and his 85-year-old wife suffered injuries, the Donetsk prosecutor general’s office said on Telegram.
Ukraine expects an increase in the production of Ukrainian drones in the fall, Reznikov, the outgoing defense minister, said in an interview with the state-run Ukrinform news agency. Reznikov added that Kyiv may start using F-16 fighter aircraft in spring next year.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said an inquiry found no evidence that his country shipped weapons to Russia last year, though he will not release the report, citing “classified” information among the evidence. Reuben Brigety, the U.S. ambassador to South Africa, told reporters in May that South Africans loaded weapons onto a ship called the Lady R outside Cape Town.
Russia has been trying to recruit citizens of neighboring countries, including Armenia and Kazakhstan, to fight in Ukraine, Britain’s Defense Ministry said. The ministry said that online advertisements are offering 495,000 rubles ($5,140) in initial payments, adding that hiring foreign nationals allows the Kremlin to “acquire additional personnel for its war effort in the face of mounting casualties.”
The war in Ukraine halted adoptions. Now some orphans are stuck in limbo: Wendy and Leo Van Asten first met “M and M” — a brother and sister from eastern Ukraine — when the children stayed at the couple’s home near Madison, Wis., for four weeks at the end of 2018, as part of a program connecting Ukrainian orphans and foster children with American families. The bond with the children was immediate, they said.
The couple instantly started the adoption process, maintaining contact with M and M — whom they call by the initials of their first names out of affection and to protect their identities. But nearly five years later, it is unclear whether the couple will ever get their wish, David L. Stern reports.
Ukrainian officials have halted international adoptions until the end of the war. And many Western officials and analysts say fighting could continue for years — a prospect that fills families such as the Van Astens with desperation.
Loveday Morris and Serhiy Morgunov contributed to this report.