Latest news on Russia and the war in Ukraine

Turkey’s Erdogan meets Putin for talks in Sochi

President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Tayyip Erdogan have opened talks in the Russian Black Sea city of Sochi.

The pair are set to discuss Syria, Ukraine and Russia’s construction of a nuclear power plant in southern Turkey.

The Russian president thanked Erdogan for Turkey’s role in helping to organize the resumption of grain shipments from Ukraine.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan meets with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in Sochi, Russia, on August 5, 2022.

Turkish Presidency Press Office | Reuters

“Deliveries have already started, I want to thank you both for this and for the fact that at the same time a decision was made on the uninterrupted supply of Russian food and fertilizer to world markets,” Putin said.

Putin also told Erdogan that he wants to sign an agreement to boost trade and economic ties between Moscow and Ankara.

“I hope that today we can sign a relevant memorandum on the development of our trade and economic ties,” Putin said.

—Karen Gilchrist

US says it will ‘follow up’ Russia’s offer to discuss prisoner swap

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks at the 10th Annual Review of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty at the UN Headquarters on August 1, 2022 in New York City.

Spencer Platt | fake images

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said Washington will “follow up” on Russia’s offer to discuss a prisoner swap involving imprisoned basketball star Brittney Griner.

“They are ready to participate” in a trade for Griner, Blinken said at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. “And we will follow it,” he added.

Earlier Friday, Moscow said it was ready to discuss prisoner swaps with Washington through an existing diplomatic channel, a day after Griner was sentenced to nine years in jail on drug charges.

—Karen Gilchrist

Russia expels 14 Bulgarian diplomats

Russian government aircraft IL-96 departs from the airport in Sofia, Bulgaria, on July 3, 2022.

Nurfoto | Nurfoto | fake images

Russia declared 14 Bulgarian diplomats persona non grata, the country’s foreign ministry said.

Earlier this summer, Bulgaria expelled 70 Russian diplomats over espionage concerns and limited the size of Moscow’s representation as relations between the previously close allies fractured.

In a statement, the Russian Foreign Ministry said Bulgaria’s move was evidence of “further degradation of the collective West, which is ready to sacrifice the interests of partners to harm Russia.”

—Karen Gilchrist

You can’t end the war by ignoring Russia, says Erdogan’s aide

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan meets with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in Sochi, Russia, on August 5, 2022.

Turkish Presidency Press Office | Reuters

A top adviser to Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has said the war in Ukraine will not end if Moscow is ignored in an apparently direct attack on other NATO members.

Communications director Fahrettin Altun praised Turkey’s role in negotiating a deal to export grain from Ukraine and said other countries should step up their diplomatic response.

“The truth is that some of our friends don’t want the war to end. They are shedding crocodile tears,” Altun told Reuters, adding that some were actively trying to undermine Turkey’s efforts without specifying who.

“The international community cannot end the war in Ukraine by ignoring Russia. Diplomacy and peace must prevail,” he added.

The comments come as Erdogan was on his way to Sochi, Russia, to meet with his counterpart, President Vladimir Putin.

—Karen Gilchrist

Zelenskyy Responds After Amnesty Accuses Ukraine Of Endangering Civilians

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky delivers a statement during a joint press conference with Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda after their meeting in Kyiv on July 28, 2022.

Sergei Supinsky | AFP | fake images

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy denounced Amnesty International’s accusations that Ukraine is endangering civilians by stationing troops in residential areas.

The human rights group said in a report on Thursday that it had “documented a pattern of Ukrainian forces putting civilians at risk and violating the laws of war when operating in populated areas.”

Zelenskyy refuted the claims, saying that Amnesty was “trying to shift responsibility from the perpetrator to the victim”.

—Karen Gilchrist

Russian-backed separatists claim to have taken Pisky village in eastern Ukraine

Pisky, a town on the outskirts of Donetsk in eastern Ukraine, has been taken over by pro-Russian forces, according to the Russian state news agency Tass.

Gaelle Girbes | Getty Images News | fake images

Russian and pro-Russian forces said they took full control of Pisky, a town on the outskirts of Donetsk in eastern Ukraine, according to the Russian state news agency Tass.

They added that the fighting was taking place in the city of Bakhmut, north of Donetsk.

The Ukrainian military said on Thursday that Russian forces had carried out at least two attacks on Pisky, but had so far been repelled.

—Karen Gilchrist

Russia says it is ready to discuss prisoner swaps with the US.

USA Women’s National Basketball Association (NBA) basketball player Brittney Griner, who was detained at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport and later charged with illegal possession of cannabis, awaits the verdict inside the defendants’ cage before a court hearing in Khimki, outside Moscow, in August. 4, 2022.

Evgenia Novozhenina | AFP | fake images

Moscow said it was ready to start talks with the United States on a prisoner swap following the sentencing of basketball star Brittney Griner.

A Russian court found WNBA Griner guilty on drug charges and sentenced her to nine years in prison on Thursday.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said President Vladimir Putin and his US counterpart Joe Biden previously agreed on a diplomatic channel that should be used to discuss such matters.

“We are ready to discuss this issue, but within the framework of the channel that Presidents Putin and Biden agreed to,” Lavrov said during a visit to Cambodia.

The Kremlin had previously warned the United States not to resort to “megaphone diplomacy” in the Griner case.

—Karen Gilchrist

Blinken and Lavrov will not speak at ASEAN meetings in Cambodia

US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken watches the East Asia Summit Foreign Ministers meeting during the 55th ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meeting in Phnom Penh on August 5, 2022 .

Tang Chhin Sothy | Afp | fake images

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has no plans to speak with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, where the two men are attending the Association of Southeast Asian Nations for Foreign Ministers. Foreign Affairs, a State Department official told reporters.

The two men did not make any eye contact despite sitting close to each other at the East Asia Summit Foreign Ministers’ meeting, notes from the group showed.

According to the US official, Russia has not provided a “serious response” to the Biden administration’s proposal to the Russian government for the release of Griner and former Marine Paul Whelan.

Addressing Russia’s war in Ukraine is one of Blinken’s goals in Cambodia, where he will stay until Friday, before traveling to the Philippines, South Africa, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwanda, the US State Department said.

— Natalia Tham

Three grain-carrying ships leave Ukrainian ports

Three more ships carrying grain and food departed from Ukrainian ports under a recent landmark deal. on August 05, 2022 in Odessa, Ukraine.

Metin Atkas | Anadolu Agency | fake images

Three more ships carrying Ukrainian grain exports have left the country’s Black Sea ports, the United Nations coordinating committee confirmed.

The ships, carrying a combined 58,041 tons of corn, left for the UK, Ireland and Turkey.

The shipments are part of an internationally negotiated deal to unblock Ukraine’s agricultural exports and ease the growing global food crisis. Follows the first shipment of grain on Monday.

Meanwhile, a Turkish bulk carrier was expected to arrive at the Ukrainian Black Sea port of Chornomorsk, the first to arrive at the country’s port since Russia’s invasion.

Kyiv has called for the pact to be extended to other goods such as metals.

—Karen Gilchrist

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