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Ukraine live briefing: Foreign aid volunteers killed in Donetsk shelling; German minister arrives in Kyiv

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Photos posted on a social media page for the Ukrainian Defense Ministry on Sunday show Canadian aid worker Anthony “Tonko” Ihnat, left, and Spanish aid worker Emma Igual. Both worked for the international humanitarian organization Road to Relief in Ukraine. (AFP/Getty Images)

A pair of volunteer aid workers killed near Ukraine’s front line have been identified as 32-year-old Spanish national Emma Igual and Canadian national Anthony “Tonko” Ihnat, according to the Spanish government and the international aid group they worked for. They were traveling to visit residents on the outskirts of Bakhmut on behalf of Road To Relief, established to help civilians in the Donetsk and Kherson regions, when their van was hit by Russian shelling, the charity said.

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock arrived in Kyiv on an unannounced visit that, according to the Foreign Ministry, will touch upon Ukraine’s possible accession to the European Union.

Here’s the latest on the war and its ripple effects across the globe.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky expressed his condolences for the deaths of the two aid workers. In his nightly address on Sunday, Zelensky added that two other wounded volunteers — German citizen Ruben Mawick and Swedish citizen Johan Mathias — were taken to Dnipro for medical care.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has departed for Russia by train, South Korean media reported Monday, ahead of an expected meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in the port city of Vladivostok. According to U.S. officials, they will discuss arms shipments that could aid Russia’s ongoing war in Ukraine. The rail journey from Pyongyang to Vladivostok is estimated to take 20 hours, with Kim’s specially-equipped armored train — kitted out with luxurious fittings — reportedly capable of reaching speeds of 37 miles per hour.

“Just as Ukraine positions itself in front of us, it can also rely on us,” Baerbock said upon her arrival in Kyiv. The trip marks Baerbock’s fourth visit to Ukraine since the Russian invasion in February 2022.

A declaration adopted by world leaders at the Group of 20 summit in New Delhi avoided directly criticizing Russia for its invasion of Ukraine, despite a carefully worded pledge to refrain from the use of force for territorial gain. The declaration also called for the “full, timely and effective implementation” of the Black Sea Grain Initiative, which seeks safe passage for fertilizer and grain from three Ukrainian ports. Moscow pulled out of the deal in July.

Romania protested the violation of its airspace by Russian drones after officials found drone fragments similar to those used by Russian forces near Romania’s border with Ukraine. State Secretary Iulian Fota of the Romanian Foreign Ministry summoned the chargé d’affaires of Russia’s Embassy in Bucharest for a weekend meeting to lodge the protest, according to a statement.

Russia downed two drones over the Belgorod region early Monday, regional governor Vyacheslav Gladkov and the Defense Ministry said on Telegram. Gladkov said one drone fell on a road near a residential building but there were no casualties. The Defense Ministry said it also destroyed a Ukraine-launched drone over the Bryansk region on Sunday morning.

It’s “too early to say” whether Ukraine’s summer offensive has failed, Gen. Mark A. Milley, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the BBC. He added that Kyiv has “about 30 to 45 days” left before colder, wetter weather makes it harder to fight.

Ukraine and Sweden plan to jointly produce 1,000 CV-90 combat vehicles, Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar said on Telegram.

Russia began offering visa-free travel to tourists from four Gulf states and Malaysia last month, Economic Development Minister Maxim Reshetnikov said Monday, in addition recently introduced visa-free travel to groups from China and Iran. “Foreign tourists need to visit us at least once so that they can fall in love with our country,” he said. Tourism to Russia has fallen sharply since the invasion, according to local tour operators — who reported that visitor numbers dropped from some 5.1 million in 2019 to 200,000 in 2022.

Romania and the United States are holding joint naval exercises in the Black Sea and Danube Delta starting Monday, the Romanian Navy announced. Bulgaria, France, Turkey, Ukraine and the United Kingdom will also participate in the drill, which is aimed at combating explosive devices on and over the sea to ensure freedom of navigation.

South Korea pledged another $2.3 billion in aid to Ukraine starting in 2025, in addition to the $300 million previously pledged for next year, Yonhap news agency reported. President Yoon Suk Yeol made the announcement Sunday at a session of the G-20 summit in India.

In time of war, Russia turns up aggression on transgender citizens: When Russian authorities took away Yan Dvorkin’s 10-year-old adopted son last spring, there was nothing he could do but shout in frustration. His crime? He is a transgender, nonbinary person, married to a man, Robyn Dixon reports. The official from child services had denounced him to prosecutors because he was open about his gender identity on social media — a crime in Russia for which he was convicted and ordered to give up the son he adopted five years ago.

Putin has framed the invasion of Ukraine as a war against “Satanists,” liberal Western values, and “parent number one and parent number two.” And in July, he signed a repressive law dissolving transgender people’s marriages, barring them from adopting children and preventing them from changing their gender in state documents. As the war has ground on, Russia has witnessed increasingly harsh measures against transgender people.

Kate Brady and Natalia Abbakumova contributed to this report.

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