Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in 2019 before talks in Vladivostok, Russia. (Yuri Kadobnov/AFP/Getty Images)

Russian authorities said air defense systems shot down three Ukrainian drones early Tuesday near Moscow and a fourth over the illegally annexed Crimean Peninsula. Moscow’s mayor said one of the drones was destroyed in Zavidovo, a village north of the capital that is home to an official presidential residence. There was no immediate comment from Kyiv, and the Russian Defense Ministry reported no damage.

Cuba’s Foreign Ministry accused human traffickers operating from Russia of trying to recruit Cubans to fight for Russia. “Cuba has a firm and clear historical position against mercenarism,” Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez said in a statement. “Cuba is not part of the war in Ukraine.”

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

Russia’s Defense Ministry said air defenses intercepted two drones over the Kaluga and Tver regions outside Moscow and another over the Istra district, closer to the city. Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said that the drones were flying toward the capital and that there was no damage from the drone downed over Zavidovo in the Tver region. The Washington Post could not independently verify the claims. Moscow blames Kyiv for a recent uptick in attempted drone attacks. Officials in Kyiv have not confirmed Ukraine’s involvement in individual drone attacks targeting Moscow, but they have asserted that they see sites in Russia as part of the war.

The Kremlin declined to comment Tuesday on reports that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un could visit Russia this month, after U.S. officials told The Post that Kim plans to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin for possible arms negotiations as Moscow seeks to boost its arsenal for the Ukraine war. “We have nothing to say on this topic,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

Arms negotiations between Russia and North Korea “are actively advancing,” according to Adrienne Watson, a U.S. National Security Council spokeswoman. U.S. officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the issue’s sensitivity, said Putin and Kim probably would meet in the port city of Vladivostok in eastern Russia. White House officials did not publicly confirm that a meeting is expected to take place but expressed growing concern over relations between Moscow and Pyongyang. The White House said last week that Putin and Kim had swapped letters, The Post reported.

The Ukrainian parliament voted Tuesday officially to dismiss Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov, who took the role in November 2021, the state news agency Ukrinform reported. The parliamentary vote formalizes the resignation of Reznikov, who stepped down this week after President Volodymyr Zelensky announced plans to replace him as the ministry grapples with accusations of corruption.

Putin did not rejoin the Black Sea Grain Initiative after meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday to discuss grain exports. Putin said his country would rejoin the deal when restrictions on Russian exports have been lifted. Moscow withdrew in July from the agreement, which was brokered by Ankara and the United Nations to get grain exports to countries struggling with food insecurity. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba described Moscow’s insistence that its terms be met as “blackmail.”

Ukrainian first lady Olena Zelenska said her family has been forced to live separately because of the war. She was speaking in an interview published Tuesday about the personal toll of the conflict. “We have the opportunity to see each other but not as often as we would like. My son misses his father,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s wife told the BBC. “This may be a bit selfish, but I need my husband, not a historical figure, by my side,” she added.

Nearly 300 people were killed and 600 injured by cluster bombs in Ukraine last year, making it the country with the highest casualty toll from the widely banned munitions in 2022, the Cluster Munition Coalition said Tuesday. The watchdog said that nearly all victims were civilians and that many were children.

A Russian-allied official in the Luhansk region was wounded in a blast at his house, Ukrainian and Russia media outlets reported. Both described the explosion as a Ukrainian assassination attempt on Yuriy Afanasievsky, a customs official in the pro-Russian separatist territory of eastern Ukraine. Reports on the severity of his injuries differed.

Romania’s Defense Ministry dismissed claims that Russian drones entered the country during an attack on Ukrainian ports on the Danube River. “The drone attacks conducted by the Russian Federation did not pose any direct military threats against our national territory or Romania’s territorial waters,” it said. The statement came after Ukrainian Foreign Ministry spokesman Oleg Nikolenko wrote that drones “fell and detonated” on Romanian territory.

Cuba said it has identified a human-trafficking scheme that coerced Cuban citizens into fighting for Russia and against Ukraine. The human-trafficking network was operating in Cuba and Russia, and authorities were working to “neutralize and dismantle” it, according to Cuba’s Foreign Ministry

Russia is discussing the prospect of holding a joint naval exercise with North Korea, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu told reporters Monday. “Why not? They are our neighbors,” Shoigu was quoted as saying.

Who is Rustem Umerov, Zelensky’s pick for Ukrainian defense minister? The Ukrainian president has named a new defense minister a year and a half into the war: Rustem Umerov, a Crimean Tatar who rose through the private sector and has played a key role in high-stakes negotiations, Miriam Berger and Serhiy Morgunov report.

“The cabinet-level shake-up comes amid a wide-ranging crackdown on graft as Ukraine seeks to project to its Western backers a hard line on the issue,” they write.

David L. Stern, Serhiy Morgunov, Lyric Li, Dan Rosenzweig-Ziff and Ellen Nakashima contributed to this report.

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