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The Ukrainian defense minister should be replaced, says Zelenskyj | CBC News

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Sunday that Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov would be replaced this week by Rustem Umerov, a Crimean Tatar lawmaker.

Zelenskyy made this known on his official Telegram account, writing that a new leadership was needed after Umerov “endured more than 550 days of full-scale war.”

Later in his evening address, Zelenskyy said he believed “that the ministry needs new approaches and different formats of interaction with both the military and society.”

“The Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine is well acquainted with this person, and Umerov needs no further introduction. I expect support for this candidacy from Parliament,” said the nation’s President.

Umerov, 41, a politician from the opposition Holos party, has been the head of Ukraine’s State Property Fund since September 2022.

People shake hands during a meeting.
Ukrainian lawmaker Rustem Umerov is seen during a visit to the US Capitol in Washington, DC in June 2022. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

He was involved in the exchange of prisoners of war, political prisoners, children and civilians, and the evacuation of civilians from occupied territories. Umerov was also part of the Ukrainian delegation to the United Nations-backed grain deal negotiations with Russia.

In August, a scandal erupted over the Department of Defense’s procurement of military jackets.

Ukrainian investigative journalists reported that the materials were purchased at a price three times higher than normal and that summer jackets were ordered instead of winter jackets. The supplier’s customs documents listed the jackets as US$29 (CA$39.43) per unit, but the Department of Defense paid US$86 (CA$116.93) per unit. Reznikov denied the allegations during a press conference last week.

Sunday’s announcement came after two people were hospitalized after a three-and-a-half-hour Russian drone attack on a port in Ukraine’s Odessa region, officials said.

A firefighter works at a burning site and near destroyed vehicles.
A firefighter works at a site hit by Russian drone strikes in Odessa, southern Ukraine, on Sunday. (Press service of the State Emergency Service of Ukraine in Odessa/Reuters)

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 anti-aircraft defenses, Ukraine’s Air Force said on Telegram.

Zelenskyy’s chief of staff Andriy Yermak described the attack as part of a Russian action “to provoke a food crisis and world hunger”.

The Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement that the attack was aimed at fuel depots used to supply military equipment.

Long-awaited Putin-Erdogon summit

The attack on the Reni seaport comes a day before Russian President Vladimir Putin is scheduled to meet with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan to discuss resuming food supplies from Ukraine under a Black Sea grain deal Moscow canceled in July.

The long-awaited meeting between Putin and Erdogan is scheduled to take place in Sochi on Russia’s south-west coast on Monday.

Turkish officials have confirmed the couple will discuss renewing the Black Sea Grains Initiative, which the Kremlin withdrew from six weeks ago.

The deal, negotiated by the United Nations and Turkey in July 2022, had allowed almost 33 million tonnes (36 million tons) of grain and other goods to safely leave three Ukrainian ports, despite the war with Russia.

VIEW | Russia is under attack with large-scale, escalating drone strikes:

Russia is under attack with widespread and escalating drone strikes

At least six regions in Russia have been attacked by drones. This appears to be the most widespread airstrike since the start of the full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Ukraine has not directly claimed responsibility, but drone strikes have escalated in recent weeks.

However, Russia backed away from the deal after claiming that a parallel deal that called for removing barriers to Russian food and fertilizer exports had not been honored.

Moscow complained that restrictions on shipping and insurance were hampering its agricultural trade, despite the country shipping record quantities of wheat since last year.

The Sochi summit follows talks between Russian and Turkish foreign ministers on Thursday, at which Russia handed out a list of measures the West would need to take to allow Ukraine’s Black Sea exports to resume.

Erdogan has expressed sympathy for Putin’s position. In July, he said Putin had “certain expectations of Western countries” regarding the Black Sea Agreement and that it was “crucial for those countries to take action in this regard.”

Deadly shelling in Ukraine

Elsewhere in Ukraine, three people were killed in two separate attacks by Russian shelling in the Donetsk region on Sunday. The victims also included an 85-year-old man who was crushed to death by the rubble of his own home, Ukraine’s prosecutor’s office reported.

A 36-year-old man was also killed in another Russian attack on Ukraine’s Kherson region.

Ukraine’s prosecutors announced on Sunday that they had launched a war crimes investigation into the death of a police officer who was killed by Russian shelling in the city of Seredyna-Buda on Saturday afternoon.

Two other police officers and a civilian were injured in the attack in Ukraine’s northeastern Sumy region.

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