On Friday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky began high-stakes negotiations with Turkish Leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The meetings were part of the penultimate stage of Zelensky’s European tour, which was designed to further Ukraine’s desire to join NATO and win more weaponry from allies.
The discussions took place in Istanbul on the eve of the 500th day after Russia’s invasion, and Zelensky admitted that Ukraine’s counteroffensive was moving forward in a methodical and steady manner.
During his two-day stay in Prague, he made the request during a visit to the United States and other allies, asking them to supply long-range weapons and artillery.
“Without long-range weapons, it is difficult not only to fulfill an offensive mission, but it is difficult to conduct a defensive operation, to be honest,” Zelensky said to the reporters. “It is difficult to fulfill an offensive mission.”
The news outlets in the United States have recently claimed that the United States Department of Defense (DOD) is working on a new arsenal of weapons and ammunition, which may involve the contentious use of cluster bombs, which are able to disperse a number of smaller explosives across a larger area.
Human rights organizations have denounced the possibility, arguing that the bomblets may not detonate as intended, putting the lives of civilians at jeopardy as a result. Officials in Ukraine have welcomed the idea.
Following his time in Prague, Zelensky traveled to Bratislava, where he stated that NATO did not appear to be united over the membership of Sweden and Ukraine.
“And this is a threat to the strength of the alliance,” he added, referring to the upcoming summit that would be held in Vilnius the following week.
Zelensky wants his country, which has been fighting Russia’s invasion since February 2022, to become a member of NATO, and he has stated that he hopes the summit would result in a “invitation” to join the alliance. This would fulfill Zelensky’s goal.
Jens Stoltenberg, the head of NATO, stated that he expected its leaders to “reaffirm that Ukraine will become a member of NATO and unite on how to bring Ukraine closer to its goal”
Watching ‘closely’ from the Kremlin
The Kremlin is paying close attention to Zelensky’s first visit to Turkey since Russia’s invasion of the country. The Kremlin has tried to escape its growing international isolation by forging strong relations with Erdogan. Zelensky’s trip is his first to Turkey since Russia invaded the country.
Dmitry Peskov, a spokesman for the Kremlin, made similar comments to reporters on Friday. “We will very closely follow the results of these talks,” he said.
“It is going to be intriguing for all of us to find out what was talked about. “It’s very important,” he went on to say.
Before the summit, analysts anticipate that Zelensky will exert pressure on Erdogan to issue the authorization for Sweden’s membership in NATO.
Turkey is preventing Sweden from becoming a candidate for the European Union because of an ongoing disagreement between the two countries over what Ankara perceives to be Stockholm’s permissive stance toward accused Kurdish militants living in Sweden.
The agreement to transport Ukrainian grain across the Black Sea, which is set to expire soon, is expected to be a primary topic of discussion during the meetings with Erdogan, who is an essential mediator in the crisis.
Both Zelensky and Erdogan are in favor of extending the agreement with Russia that was arranged by Turkey and the United Nations, and under which Ukraine has been granted permission to send grain to global markets despite the conflict.
If Russia does not agree to the extension of the treaty, it will be terminated on July 17th.
Erdogan has made efforts to mediate a ceasefire in the conflict by capitalizing on his positive working relationships with both Zelensky and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The Turkish government has already hosted two preliminary rounds of peace talks, and it is actively pursuing additional negotiations.
Before traveling to Prague and Bratislava, Zelensky stopped in Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria, to discuss the delivery of weapons with Bulgarian officials. Bulgaria is a significant supplier of ammunition.
The Kremlin issued a statement condemning the travel to Bulgaria, claiming that Ukrainian President Poroshenko was attempting to “drag” other nations into the conflict.
“Progress” Made With Regards To Nuclear Inspections
After allegations that the Zaporizhzhia nuclear station in Ukraine had been mined, the chief of the United Nations’ nuclear inspector stated on Friday that the organization was “making progress” in investigating multiple locations of the facility there.
Both Russia and Ukraine have accused the other of plotting a provocation at the site that is owned by Russia. This has raised concerns about the potential for a radiological disaster at the nuclear reactor that is the largest in Europe.
This week, the Ukrainian military asserted that “external objects similar to explosive devices” had been installed on the exterior roof of the third and fourth reactors at the site where the incident occurred.
Rafael Grossi, who is based in Tokyo, stated that the officials from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) had been successful in “completing the tours of the cooling ponds and other places.”
He stated that they had “not seen any indications of explosives or mines,” but he noted that IAEA inspectors had not yet been able to reach the facility’s rooftops. He also stated that they had “not seen any indications of explosives or mines”
A tenth death was discovered by rescue workers on Friday amid the debris of buildings in Lviv, after the city’s mayor stated that the strike by Russian missiles on civilian infrastructure in the western Ukrainian city was the largest one since the invasion.
According to the ministry of internal affairs of Ukraine, the strike reportedly injured 42 individuals, including three children.