Russia said that it is in talks about a possible prisoner swap involving Ukrainian sailors that it detained last year, signaling a potential Kremlin concession to new Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenksiy, as he appeals for support in parliamentary elections.
“It’s being discussed — we’re thinking about it,” Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs official Grigory Karasin said on Monday, the Interfax news agency reported.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Zelenskiy, a former comic who won a landslide election victory in April, last week discussed the 24 imprisoned sailors during their first telephone call.
Zelenskiy pledged to secure the release of the sailors in his first speech after he won.
He is seeking to cement his grip on power by urging voters to support his nascent political party in early parliamentary elections on Sunday, giving him a platform to push through promised changes.
The sailors have been in Russian custody since November last year, when they and their vessels were seized during a naval clash in the Kerch Strait, off the coast of Crimea. Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014.
Ukraine won a legal victory in May when a UN tribunal ordered Russia to immediately release the captured ships and sailors. Russia argued that the tribunal had no jurisdiction in the case.
A court in Moscow is due today to consider a request from investigators to extend the custody period of the Ukrainian sailors for three months until October, Interfax reported.
The Ukrainian authorities have included the detained sailors in lists drawn up by both sides for a planned prisoner swap, Ukrainian Commissioner for Human Rights Lyudmyla Denisova said in Kiev on Monday after meeting Russian Commissioner for Human Rights Tatyana Moskalkova, Interfax reported.
A Kiev court on Monday postponed until Friday its hearing into treason allegations against Kirill Vyshinsky, head of the Ukraine office of Russia’s RIA Novosti news service, RIA reported.
Vyshinsky faces up to 15 years in prison on charges of supporting Russian-backed separatists in Ukraine. He denies the charges.
The possible prisoner swap “is a reciprocal move to encourage Zelenskiy’s more positive stance” on implementing the stalled Minsk peace accord signed in 2015 that is aimed at ending the conflict in eastern Ukraine, said Vladimir Frolov, a former Russian diplomat who is now a Moscow-based foreign policy analyst.
Putin signaled his readiness last week to consider a proposal by Zelenskiy to expand peace talks to try to resolve the conflict that has killed 13,000 people since 2014.
Putin sparked controversy days after Zelenskiy’s victory by signing a decree to offer citizenship to people living in the rebel-held areas of Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk regions.
In November last year, US President Donald Trump canceled planned talks with Putin at the G20 summit in Argentina, blaming Russia’s failure to release the Ukrainian sailors and ships.
Putin said that Trump raised the issue of the sailors during their talks at last month’s G20 summit in Japan.
TARNISHED LEGACY: Woodrow Wilson served as the university’s president before becoming the US’ 28th leader, but his racism was ‘significant and consequential’ Princeton University is removing former US president Woodrow Wilson’s name from its public policy school and one of its residential colleges after trustees concluded that the 28th president’s “racist thinking and policies” made him “an inappropriate namesake.” The Ivy League school’s trustees made the decision on Friday, according to a statement on Saturday. It comes at a time of widespread rethinking of the US’ racial legacy. The Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, energized by a series of high-profile deaths of black Americans, has resulted in the removal of Confederate monuments, flags and symbols of racism across the US. Deleting Wilson’s name at Princeton
‘FULLY ENCLOSED’: Residents of Anxin County would be confined to their homes and would only be allowed out once a day to buy necessities such as food and medicine China yesterday imposed a strict lockdown on nearly half a million people near the capital to contain a fresh COVID-19 cluster as authorities warned the outbreak was still “severe and complicated.” After China largely brought the virus under control, hundreds have been infected in Beijing and cases have emerged in Hebei Province. Health officials said that Anxin County — about 150km from Beijing — would be “fully enclosed and controlled,” the same strict measures imposed at the height of the pandemic in the city of Wuhan earlier this year. Only one person from each family would be allowed to go out once a
Japan said it opposed changes to the G7 nations as it pushed back against a reform plan by US President Donald Trump that would have rival South Korea this year join in an expanded meeting. Tokyo has told the US it stands against South Korea’s participation on the grounds of differences in policy on China and North Korea, Kyodo News reported this weekend, citing more than one source related to Japanese and US diplomacy. Japan also wants to maintain its status as the only Asian country in the group, the news agency added. Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga yesterday told reporters that
‘CHAPITOS’: An ex-DEA agent said the sons of the former cartel head are engaged in a battle for control, with the health of the man temporarily in charge a factor The fight for control of drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman’s legacy spilled into the open on Thursday after a gun battle between rival Mexican gangs left 16 dead, authorities said. The 16 men, heavily armed and wearing bulletproof vests, died in a six-hour running shootout near the rural town of Tepuche in northwestern Sinaloa province. “A van with seven bodies was located” after an initial clash, while nine bodies were discovered following a second exchange, Sinaloa Minister of Security Cristobal Castaneda told reporters. Castaneda said that Wednesday’s clash near Tepuche, 25km from the capital of Sinaloa, Culiacan, was “part of a struggle