Turkey’s leader and the US chief met in Ukraine with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Thursday in a high-powered bid to ratchet down a war raging for pretty much half a year. But little immediate progress was reported.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he’d follow-up with Russian President Vladimir Putin, considering that the majority of the matters discussed would require the Kremlin’s agreement.
With the meetings held at this type of high level it had been the first stop by at Ukraine by Erdogan because the war began, and the next by U.N. Secretary-General Antnio Guterres some had envisioned breakthroughs, or even toward a standard peace, then at the very least on specific issues. But none was apparent.
Meeting in the western city of Lviv, definately not leading lines, the leaders discussed expanding exchanges of prisoners of war and arranging for U.N. atomic energy experts to go to and help secure Europe’s biggest nuclear power plant, that is in the center of fierce fighting which has raised fears of catastrophe.
Erdogan has positioned himself as a go-between in efforts to avoid the fighting. While Turkey is really a person in NATO, its wobbly economy is reliant on Russia for trade, and contains tried to steer a middle course between your two combatants.
The Turkish president urged the international community following the talks never to abandon diplomatic efforts to get rid of the war which has killed thousands and forced a lot more than 10 million Ukrainians from their homes.
He repeated that Turkey is ready to become “mediator and facilitator” and added, “I remain convinced that the war will end at the negotiating table.”
In March, Turkey hosted talks in Istanbul between Russian and Ukrainian negotiators that didn’t end the hostilities.
One major topic at the talks in Lviv was the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in southern Ukraine. Moscow and Kyiv have accused one another of shelling the complex.
Condemning the Kremlin for what he called “nuclear blackmail,” Zelenskyy demanded that Russian troops leave the plant and a team from the U.N.’s International Atomic Energy Agency be allowed in.
“The region must be demilitarized, and we should tell it since it is: Any potential damage in Zaporizhzhia is suicide,” Guterres said at a news conference.
Erdogan likewise expressed concern on the fighting round the plant, saying, “We don’t desire to experience another Chernobyl” – a mention of the world’s worst nuclear accident, in Ukraine in 1986.
Zelenskyy and the U.N. chief agreed Thursday on arrangements for an IAEA mission to the plant, based on the president’s website. Nonetheless it had not been immediately clear if the Kremlin would consent to the terms. For a pullout of troops, a Russian Foreign Ministry official said earlier that that could leave the plant “vulnerable.”
Fears mounted Thursday when Russian and Ukrainian authorities accused one another of plotting to attack the website and blame another side. Late Thursday, multiple rounds of Ukrainian shelling struck the town where the power plant is situated, a Russian official reported.
Guterres used the talks in Lviv to mention Gen. Carlos dos Santos Cruz of Brazil to lead a previously announced U.N. fact-finding mission to the Olenivka prison where 53 Ukrainian POWs were killed within an explosion in July. Russia and Ukraine have blamed one another for the blast.
Also on the agenda Thursday: a rise in grain exports. Earlier come early july, the U.N. and Turkey brokered an agreement clearing just how for Ukraine to export 22 million a great deal of corn along with other grain stuck in its Black Sea ports because the Russian invasion.
The blockage has worsened world food shortages, driven up prices and heightened fears of famine, especially in Africa. Yet despite having the deal, just a trickle of Ukrainian grain has managed to get out some 600,000 tons by Turkey’s estimate.
Zelenskyy said Thursday he proposed expanding the shipments. Guterres, for his part, touted the operation’s success but added, “There exists a good way to go before this is translated in to the daily life of individuals at their local bakery and within their markets.”
On the battlefield, meanwhile, at the very least 17 individuals were killed overnight in heavy Russian missile strikes on Ukraine’s Kharkiv region, Ukrainian authorities said Thursday.
Russia’s military claimed that it struck a base for foreign mercenaries in Kharkiv, killing 90. There is no immediate comment from the Ukrainian side.
In the most recent incident on Russian soil close to the border with Ukraine, an ammunition dump caught fire in a village in the Belgorod region, the regional governor said. No casualties were reported. Video posted online, whose authenticity couldn’t be verified, showed orange flames and black smoke, with the sound of multiple explosions.
Elsewhere, Russian officials reported that anti-aircraft defenses shot down drones in the Russian-occupied Crimean Peninsula at Kerch and close to the Belbek airfield in the Black Sea port of Sevastopol. Explosions in recent weeks on the peninsula have destroyed warplanes and caused other damage at military airfields.
Heightening international tensions, Russia deployed warplanes carrying state-of-the-art hypersonic missiles to its Kaliningrad region, an enclave surrounded by NATO members Lithuania and Poland.