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Ukraine War: Zelenskyy discusses Black Sea grain corridor with Macron ahead of Putin-Erdogan summit

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron shake hands in Kyiv, 2022
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron shake hands in Kyiv, 2022 Copyright SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP via Getty Images
Copyright SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP via Getty Images
By Euronews with AP and AFP
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All the latest developments from the war in Ukraine.

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Ukraine’s President Zelenskyy reveals he’s discussed the the functioning of the maritime grain corridor in the Black Sea with Emmanuel Macron

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has announced that he’s spoken with his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron about "means of ensuring the functioning" of the corridor established by Kiev in the Black Sea to ensure the safety of navigation after Moscow's withdrawal from the agreement on cereal exports.

“We also discussed ways to ensure the functioning of the grain corridor and strengthen the security of the Odessa region,” in southwestern Ukraine, Zelenskyy said on X, formerly Twitter, after a telephone conversation with Macron.

Mr. Zelenskyy also thanked Mr. Macron for the "crucial military aid" provided by France to his country and said that the two men had "discussed the next steps" that will be taken on this subject.

Russia attacks Ukrainian port ahead of Vladimir Putin's meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday

Two people have been hospitalised following Russian drone barrage on a port in Ukraine’s Odessa region on Sunday which lasted for more than 3 hours, officials say.

The attack on the Reni seaport comes a day before Russian President Vladimir Putin is due to meet with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan to discuss the resumption of food shipments from Ukraine under a Black Sea grain agreement that Moscow broke off from in July.

Russian forces fired 25 Iranian-made Shahed drones along the Danube River in the early hours of Sunday, 22 of which were shot down by air defences, the Ukrainian air force said via Telegram.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s chief of staff, Andriy Yermak, described the assault as part of a Russian drive “to provoke a food crisis and hunger in the world”.

Russia's Defence Ministry said in a statement that the attack was aimed at fuel storage facilities used to supply military equipment.

Russian premier Putin is set to meet with his Turkish counterpart on 4 September, with Erdogan hoping to persuade the Russian leader to rejoin the Black Sea grain deal that Moscow broke off from in July.

Held in Sochi on Russia’s southern coast, the crucial rendezvous comes after the Kremlin refused to renew the grain agreement some six weeks ago.

Vladimir Smirnov/Sputnik/Kremlin Pool Photo via AP
Erdogan and Putin have met on several occasions ahead of Monday's summitVladimir Smirnov/Sputnik/Kremlin Pool Photo via AP

The deal - brokered by the United Nations and Turkey in July 2022 - had allowed nearly 33 million metric tons (36 million tons) of grain and other commodities to leave three Ukrainian ports safely despite Russia's war.

However, Russia pulled out after claiming that a parallel deal promising to remove obstacles to Russian exports of food and fertiliser hadn't been honoured.

Moscow complained that restrictions on shipping and insurance hampered its agricultural trade, even though it has shipped record amounts of wheat since last year.

Since Putin withdrew from the initiative, Erdogan has repeatedly pledged to renew arrangements that helped avoid a food crisis in parts of Africa, the Middle East and Asia. Ukraine and Russia are major suppliers of wheat, barley, sunflower oil and other goods that developing nations rely on.

The Turkish president has maintained close ties to Putin during the 18-month war in Ukraine. Turkey hasn't joined Western sanctions against Russia following its invasion, emerging as a main trading partner and logistical hub for Russia’s overseas trade.

NATO member Turkey, however, has also supported Ukraine, sending arms, meeting Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and backing Kyiv’s bid to join NATO.

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Putin and Erdogan - both authoritarian leaders who have been in power for more than two decades - are said to have a close rapport, fostered in the wake of a failed coup against Erdogan in 2016 when Putin was the first major leader to offer his support.

The Sochi summit follows talks between the Russian and Turkish foreign ministers on Thursday, during which Russia handed over a list of actions that the West would have to take in order for Ukraine’s Black Sea exports to resume.

Erdogan has indicated sympathy with Putin’s position. In July, he said Putin had “certain expectations from Western countries” over the Black Sea deal and that it was “crucial for these countries to take action in this regard”.

Medvedev: Russian army has recruited 280,000 soldiers since the start of the year

Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said on Sunday that Moscow had recruited around 280,000 soldiers since the start of the year.

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That’s an increase of 50,000 on the previous figures dating from the beginning of August.

“According to data from the Russian Defense Ministry, around 280,000 people have been accepted under contract into the ranks of the armed forces since January 1,” Medvedev said, quoted by the state news agency TASS.

The former head of state, who is currently deputy chairman of the Russian Security Council, made his remarks during a visit to the island of Sakhalin.

At the beginning of August he claimed that the army had recruited more than 230,000 people since 1 January, but there remains a question mark over the veracity of that number.

Since the spring, the Russian army has been carrying out a vast voluntary recruitment campaign, promising attractive salaries and benefits to potential soldiers.

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In September 2022, the Russian authorities had to resort, faced with losses on the front, to a partial mobilisation, which made it possible to recruit at least 300,000 men but caused the flight of hundreds of thousands of Russians abroad.

22 Russian drones shot down in Odessa region - Ukraine

The Ukrainian Air Force said on Sunday it shot down 22 Russian drones in the Odessa region in the south of the country.

“On the night of September 3, 2023, the Russian occupiers launched several waves of +Shahed-136/131+ drone attacks from the south and southeast,” the Ukrainian Air Force wrote on Telegram, adding that 22 drones were destroyed out of an apparent total of 25 launched.

Since the agreement which allowed Ukraine to safely export its cereals via the Black Sea came to an end in July, Russia has increased attacks against the regions of Odessa and Mykolaiv, in southern Ukraine.

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The next month, the first cargo ship passing through the Black Sea reached Istanbul, Turkey, despite Russian obstruction.

On Saturday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that two new ships had passed through the “temporary grain corridor in the Black Sea” created by his country.

Recruitment drive in Russia as casualties mount

Russia has been appealing to citizens of neighbouring countries with recruitment adverts for individuals to fight in Ukraine.

Online adverts have been appearing in Armenia and Kazakhstan offering 495,000 roubles (approximately €4,760) in initial payments and salaries from 190,000 roubles (about €1,828).

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Since at least May 2023, Russia has been approaching central Asian migrants to fight in Ukraine with promises of fast-track citizenship and salaries of up to €3,850.

In the Ukrainian city of Mariupol, Uzbek migrant builders have reportedly had their passports confiscated upon arrival and been coerced to join the Russian military.

There are at least six million migrants from Central Asia in Russia, which the Kremlin likely sees as potential recruits.

The recruitment drive likely comes at a time when Russia is hoping to avoid further unpopular domestic mobilisation measures in the run up to the 2024 Presidential elections. Using foreign nationals in the conflict allows the Kremlin to acquire additional personnel for its war effort in the face of mounting casualties.

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