Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Kyiv is ready for an imminent prisoner exchange with Russia, and called on allies to continue to put economic and political pressure on Moscow.
Meanwhile, a British minister has warned that the number of deaths from global grain and food shortages due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine “could be even greater than the lives lost in the war directly.”
Here are the latest developments:
Zelensky addresses World Economic Forum: The Ukrainian President told an audience at the World Economic Forum in Davos that Kyiv is prepared for a prisoner exchange with Russia “even tomorrow.” Speaking via video on Monday, Zelensky said “the exchange of people” is a “very political decision that depends on the support of many states.” He urged world leaders to “keep the political pressure” on Russia in “any way they can,” calling for increased business closures, oil embargoes and economic sanctions.
Global grain shortages: Deaths from global grain and food shortages due to the war in Ukraine “could be even greater than the lives lost in the war directly,” UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said during an interview with Sky News Tuesday. Shapps said he is “very concerned” about the issue, and met with his Ukrainian counterpart Oleksandr Kubrakov last week in Germany to discuss how infrastructure could be put in place to ensure the grain leaves Ukraine. “It’s hard to overestimate the extent to which Ukraine was, and is, the breadbasket of the world,” he added. Meanwhile, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has accused Russia of “weaponizing” food supplies — as it has with energy.
Biden at Quad summit: US President Joe Biden met with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his new Australian counterpart, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, in separate meetings at the Quad Summit in Tokyo Tuesday. Ahead of his meeting with Modi, Biden said he and the Indian leader — who has been reluctant to condemn Russia’s war in Ukraine — would discuss the “brutal and unjustified” conflict. Meanwhile, Biden “commended Australia’s strong support for Ukraine since Russia’s invasion” during his assembly with Albanese, and both leaders “agreed on the importance of continued solidarity, including to ensure that no such event is ever repeated in the Indo-Pacific,” the White House said in a readout.
Colombia to train Ukraine in de-mining: The Colombian armed forces are sending a team to Ukraine to train its military on landmine removal operations, the Colombian Ministry of Defense said in a statement on Monday. The 11 military engineers will be deployed to an unnamed neighboring NATO country where the training will be carried out, according to the statement. The news comes two months after US President Joe Biden announced Colombia would be designated as a major non-NATO ally, strengthening security and economic ties between the pair.
Kherson military base request: The pro-Moscow authorities of Ukraine’s Kherson region will request a Russian military base in the region, Russian state news agencies reported Tuesday. Russian state news agencies RIA-Novosti and TASS quoted Kirill Stremousov, deputy head of the Russian-installed administration of Kherson region, as saying, “there should be a military base of the Russian Federation in the Kherson region. We will ask for this, and the entire population is interested in this.” The Russian military took control of parts of the Kherson region in mid-March, and Russian-backed officials claim to have occupied a series of government posts.
Moscow strengthens alliance with China: Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has said Moscow must cease any dependency on the West and that it is instead deepening ties with China. “Now that the West has taken a ‘dictator’s position,’ our economic ties with China will grow even faster,” Lavrov told an audience at a question and answer session in Moscow on Monday, according to a transcript from the Russian Foreign Ministry.