Day 559: Zelenskyi dismisses his defense minister. And: One of the richest men in Ukraine is suspected of corruption. All information in the news blog.
South Africa: No evidence of arms delivery to Russia
5.40 a.m.: A commission of inquiry has found no evidence that the country loaded weapons or ammunition on a Russian ship in December, according to South African President Cyril Ramaphosa. None of the allegations have been proven true and those who made the allegations could not substantiate their claims, Ramaphosa said in an address to the nation Sunday night. The government will soon publish a summary of the commission’s findings, but not the full report due to “confidential military information,” the president said.
In May, the US ambassador to Pretoria accused South Africa’s government of supplying arms and ammunition to Russia for the war of aggression against Ukraine. The munitions delivery is said to have come from a sanctioned Russian ship that docked at a naval base near Cape Town last December. South Africa has officially declared itself neutral in the conflict. Ramaphosa, at the insistence of the opposition, launched a parliamentary examination of the matter.
Putin and Erdogan meet in Sochi
4:48 am: Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan are meeting today in Sochi on the Black Sea coast. It will be about bilateral and international issues, as the Kremlin announced.
A key topic of the talks, which are due to start at noon, is Erdoğan’s demand for a return to the agreement to ship Ukrainian grain across the Black Sea. The agreement is important for supplying the world with food.
Turkey is also concerned about security in the Black Sea region, according to Ankara. Putin had set conditions for a return to the agreement negotiated last year through the mediation of the Erdoğan government and the United Nations. For example, the sanctions imposed by the West in the course of the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine should be relaxed so that Moscow can again export its own grain and fertilizers unhindered. Russian gas supplies through the Black Sea are also important for Turkey.
It is the first meeting between the two heads of state since Erdoğan’s re-election in May.
Ukraine – Russian attack on Izmail grain export port
3.19 a.m.: According to the Ukrainian authorities, a few hours before the summit meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Russia launched an aerial attack on one of the country’s most important grain export ports. The Ukrainian Air Force urged residents of the port of Izmail to evacuate after midnight Monday. Some Ukrainian media reported explosions in the area. Nothing was initially known about the extent of the attack. The Danube ports in the Odessa region were already the target of Russian air raids on Sunday.
Putin and Erdoğan plan to meet in the Russian Black Sea city of Sochi on Monday. The main issue is how grain exports from Ukraine can be regulated in the future. The government in Ankara is trying to persuade Putin to return to the agreement, which was extended several times until July.
More weapons: FDP expert sharply criticizes the Chancellery
2:49 a.m.: The FDP defense politician Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann sharply criticized Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) in the discussion about the delivery of Taurus cruise missiles to Ukraine. “What in God’s name is the chancellor waiting for?” wrote Strack-Zimmermann on Sunday evening in the online service Twitter, which was renamed “X”. Scholz “alone is blocking this decision within the coalition. It’s irresponsible,” she added.
The Ukrainian presidential adviser Michailo Podoljak reiterated his country’s demand for an early delivery of the Taurus cruise missiles. “It is necessary to make decisions faster and more decisively,” said Podoljak of “Bild”. There was “no other way to destroy Russian logistics and rearguards, so Taurus is needed,” he argued. The aim is not “to attack Russian territory” but “to destroy the resources of the occupiers”.