Zelensky, Macron Agree on Need to ‘Act Urgently’ to Prevent Global Food Crisis

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron spoke Sunday, discussing the “functioning” of a sea corridor set up by Kyiv for safe navigation of ships after Moscow exited a landmark grain deal. The two discussed the situation in Ukraine’s Black Sea region, which is essential for grain exports. Zelensky also reiterated his request for France to train Ukraine’s army, including on aerial defense systems, but Macron said only that he would consider it.

Zelensky also announced that Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov will be replaced this week, citing the job as requiring “new approaches.” The move comes amid a surge in Russian shelling of Ukraine’s port city of Odesa and its region of Mykolaiv. The two cities are home to vital infrastructure for shipments of grain.

Ukraine’s court-ordered tycoon Ihor Kolomoisky to be held in custody for two months on suspicion of fraud and money laundering on Saturday, a striking move against one of the country’s most influential business people. The detention of the oligarch, who is under US sanctions and was once a supporter of Mr. Zelensky, comes as Kyiv tries to signal progress during a wartime crackdown on corruption. His defense lawyers said he would appeal the ruling, questioning its legality, but they said he would not post bail of almost $14 million to secure his release.

A commission investigating Russia’s seizure of Ukrainian naval vessels in the Azov Sea last month has ruled that the incident was an act of aggression. The commission, led by former German ambassador to Kyiv Erik Mose, said the two warships were in international waters when attacked. Due to be delivered in November, the panel’s report will be sent to the OSCE Security Council and the UN Security Council.

The committee said Russia has repeatedly violated the rights of Ukrainian sailors and coast guard personnel who were captured in the incident. It has also been accused of destroying evidence.

In a separate development, police have indicted a Russian military serviceman for raping two women during the occupation of the southern Kherson region last May. Investigators said that the sailor was wearing a uniform of a Ukrainian serviceman when he raped the women and threatened them with weapons.

On Saturday, President Vladimir Putin thanked his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan for his positive attitude towards reviving the Black Sea grain deal. The Kremlin spokesman said that Erdogan understood Russia’s principled position to achieve full implementation of the second part of the deal, namely removing barriers for Moscow’s agricultural products. The two men agreed to meet soon in Sochi, he said. Turkey’s governing party says Erdogan will visit Russia next week. Erdogan has made several visits to Russia since taking power in May, seeking to boost ties with the Kremlin. He is a close ally of Putin.

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