Istanbul | Meeting announced between Zelensky and Erdogan on Friday

(Istanbul) Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is expected in Istanbul on Friday for a meeting with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan, focused on the prospects for peace and the relaunch of a secure corridor in the Black Sea.

“The situation of the ongoing war between Ukraine and Russia, the current status of the latest contacts regarding the revival of a secure corridor in the Black Sea and the search for permanent peace in the region will be discussed in detail” , the Turkish presidency announced Thursday evening.

According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the meeting – the time of which has not been specified – will be held at the Dolmabahce Palace, in Istanbul, and will be followed by a press conference at 7 p.m. local time.

The Ukrainian president appears in Turkey a week after the visit of Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to the Diplomatic Forum in Antalya (south).

On July 8, Mr. Zelensky made his first visit to Turkey since the start of the Russian invasion of his country in February 2022.

He then had a long interview with the Turkish president, who is careful to maintain contact with both Kyiv and Moscow.

Ukrainian authorities insist they desperately need additional military and financial aid to counter Russia’s offensive.

Around thirty countries met Thursday in Paris for this purpose.

“Regulation” in the Black Sea

The European Union, after procrastination, released aid of 50 billion euros in February while on the American side, an envelope of 60 billion dollars has remained blocked for months in Congress.

Ankara, which has not joined Western sanctions against Russia, supplies combat drones to the Ukrainians and facilitates trade with Moscow, on which its energy supplies largely depend.

Mr. Erdogan was also heavily involved in the conclusion of an agreement on the transport of Ukrainian grain to the Black Sea, in July 2022 under the auspices of the UN, denounced a year later by Moscow.

He recently again pleaded for “regulation which guarantees the secure navigation of commercial vessels” between the ports of the two belligerent countries to the north of the Black Sea and the entrance to the Bosphorus, to the south.

“To this end, we are continuing our contacts,” he added without further details.

The agreement denounced by Russia had allowed Ukraine to export nearly 33 million tonnes of cereals, according to the United Nations, but Moscow deplored the obstacles placed on its own agricultural or fertilizer exports.

Since then, Kyiv has successfully used an alternative route along the coasts of Bulgaria and Romania, NATO members like Turkey and with which the latter signed a mine-fighting agreement in January.

During his last visit to Turkey and against all expectations Mr. Zelensky, who had left the country discreetly after a visit and a prayer at the headquarters of the Orthodox Patriarchate of Constantinople, had brought back five officers from the former Ukrainian garrison of Mariupol.

The five men were captured by Russian forces after the fall of the city in May 2022 and were the subject of a prisoner exchange under which Ankara agreed to keep them on its territory.


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