Volodimir Zelensky received Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Lviv and both will meet with the UN Secretary General

Erdogan and Zelensky in Lviv (Murat Cetinmuhurdar/Turkish Presidency/REUTERS) (MURAT CETINMUHURDAR/PPO/)

The President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskyreceives this Thursday the president of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the UN Secretary General, Anthony Guterresin the western city of Lvivwhere diplomatic efforts to end Putin’s war would also be addressed.

According to the local press, the meeting between Zelensky Y Erdoğan started shortly after 12:00 GMT.

An hour later, the trilateral meeting of both leaders will take place with Guterreswhich will discuss diplomatic steps to end Russia‘s war against Ukraine and assess the Ukrainian grain export program signed between kyiv and Moscow last month.

Erdogan presides over a NATO member country that supports Ukraine in the war, but with a battered economy increasingly dependent on trade with Russia. That context made Thursday’s meetings in Lviv a delicate diplomatic exercise. The Turkish president met this month with Russian President Vladimir Putin to discuss the same issues.

Turkey and the UN helped broker a deal last month to allow Ukraine to export 22 million tons of corn. and other grains blocked at its Black Sea ports since the Russian invasion on February 24. Another agreement between Russia and the UN was intended to clear the way for Russian shipments of food and fertilizer to reach international markets.

The Bayraktar TB2 combat drone (REUTERS/Ints Kalnins)
The Bayraktar TB2 combat drone (REUTERS / Ints Kalnins) (INTS KALNINS /)

The war and blocked exports have significantly exacerbated the global food crisis because Ukraine and Russia are the main suppliers of food.

Turkey is in a position to help speed up exports, which have so far been reduced to a trickle. Turkey’s Defense Ministry said that shipped more than 622,000 tons of grain from Ukrainian ports since the start of the Black Sea agreement.

Grain prices peaked after the Russian invasion, and while some have returned to their pre-war levels, they remain significantly higher than before the COVID-19 pandemic. Developing countries have been particularly affected by lack of supply and high prices. Although the ships are already leaving Russia and the Ukraine, the food crisis is not over.

United Nations spokesperson stephanie dujarric told reporters this week that Guterres’ trip to Ukraine would allow him “to see first-hand the results of an initiative (…) so crucial for hundreds of millions of people.”

Before your meetings, Guterres visited the Ivan Franko National University in Lviv, the oldest in Ukraine, and praised the role of academic institutions in building democratic institutions.

Guterres visited the Ivan Franko National University of Lviv, the oldest in Ukraine (REUTERS / Gleb Garanich)
Guterres visited the Ivan Franko National University of Lviv, the oldest in Ukraine (REUTERS / Gleb Garanich) (GLEB GARANICH /)

If grain shipping and nuclear safety are issues where some progress can be made, talks on an overall end to the conflict were not expected to yield substantive results.

In March, Turkey organized a round of talks between Russian and Ukrainian negotiators, who discussed a possible agreement to end hostilities. The talks fell apart after the Istanbul meeting, with both sides blaming each other.

Erdogan has engaged in a delicate balancing act, maintaining good relations with both Russia and Ukraine. Turkey has provided Ukraine with droneswhich played a major role in deterring a Russian advance early in the conflict, but has refrained from joining Western sanctions against Russia over the war.

Faced with a major economic crisis with a official inflation close to 80%, Turkey is increasingly dependent on Russia for trade and tourism. Russian gas covers 45% of Turkey’s energy needs, and Russia’s atomic agency is building Turkey’s first nuclear power plant.

During their meeting in Sochi this month, Putin and Erdogan agreed to strengthen energy, financial and other ties between their countriessparking concerns in the West that Ankara could help Moscow circumvent US and European Union sanctions.

(With information from AP)

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