Russia-Ukraine war news: Zelensky announces new defense minister; Putin, Erdogan set for grain talks


Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov arrives for a news conference in Kyiv in October 2022. (Genya Savilov/AFP/Getty Images)

President Volodymyr Zelensky made the decision to replace Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov because the ministry needs “new approaches” with the military and the public, the Ukrainian leader said. Rustem Umerov, the head of the country’s main privatization fund, will replace Reznikov after a year and a half of war in a shake-up that has been brewing for months. Zelensky said he expects the Ukrainian parliament, which must approve the move, to support his decision.

Russian leader Vladimir Putin is scheduled to meet his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in the Russian resort city of Sochi on Monday for discussions that could be key to reviving the Black Sea Grain Initiative, which Moscow abandoned in July in a blow to global food security. Turkish officials expressed cautious optimism ahead of the talks, saying a deal “is necessary for the whole world,” according to Turkey’s state-owned Anadolu Agency.

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

Umerov, a former member of parliament who has been involved in Russia-Ukraine negotiations, will replace Reznikov as defense minister if the Ukrainian parliament approves the move this week. 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.

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.

A Russian Mi-8 helicopter pilot who defected in late August has been identified as 28-year-old Maksym Kuzminov, who said he rejected Russia’s actions in Ukraine, Kyiv’s Main Directorate of Intelligence said Sunday. Kuzminov also 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 various Ukrainian drones in the fall, 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.

Moldova’s President Maia Sandu denounced Russia’s strike Sunday on the Danube River port facilities in Odessa, saying on social media that Moscow “must be held accountable for every piece of infrastructure destroyed.” Moldova, a former member of the Soviet Union whose southern tip borders the Danube, has distanced itself from Russia in recent years and has characterized the Kremlin as a threat.

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 Sunday 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.”

Zelensky said he discussed the grain corridor and security in Odessa with French President Emmanuel Macron, without providing further details as to what France might do to help the grain initiative.

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.


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