Ukraine deserves NATO membership: Tayyip Erdogan

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky (left) meets with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Istanbul on July 7, 2023.  - Reuters
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky (left) meets with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Istanbul on July 7, 2023. – Reuters

In another major achievement, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Saturday secured Turkey’s crucial support for Ukraine’s NATO aspirations after winning a US pledge for cluster munitions that inflict massive damage on Russian forces on the battlefield.

As the war enters its 500th day today, the Ukrainian president is traveling across Europe in an attempt to secure bigger and better weapons for his peerless army, which has launched a long-awaited counteroffensive that will is progressing less rapidly than its allies had expected.

Appreciating Washington for military support, the president described the latest US arms package as “timely, comprehensive and much needed”. AFP informed of.

Zelensky said on Twitter that it would “provide new tools to de-occupy our land”.

US President Joe Biden admitted that supplying Ukraine with weapons capable of covering several football fields with hundreds of small explosives was “a difficult decision”.

“And by the way, I discussed this with my aides,” Biden pointed out. CNN, “The Ukrainians are running out of ammunition.”

civil toll

Humanitarian groups strongly condemn the decision to supply the cluster munitions, which could go unchecked for years to come and potentially endanger civilians.

Defending the US move, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan argued that “there would be a huge risk of civilian casualties if Russian troops and tanks move into Ukrainian positions and take more Ukrainian territory”.

Russian officials issued no immediate reaction.

As the 500 days of the war approached, the United Nations condemned the civilian loss.

More than 9,000 civilians, including more than 500 children, have been killed since Russia’s February 24, 2022 invasion, the UN human rights monitoring mission in Ukraine said in a statement on Friday, although rights experts have previously warned that the actual number may be higher. The count is likely to be much higher. is being matched.

The monitoring mission said that more than three times as many civilians were killed in the last 500 days as during the last eight years of hostilities in eastern Ukraine.

The Kremlin is watching closely

Zelensky’s talks were closely monitored by the Kremlin in Turkey, a strategic NATO member on uneasy terms with the West that has sought to break its international isolation by building stronger ties with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Erdogan has tried to portray himself as a neutral mediator, largely boosting wartime trade with Russia while supplying Ukraine with drones and other weapons that helped Kremlin forces in the first weeks of the war. helped prevent the capture of Kiev.

But while reaffirming his longtime call for both sides to engage in peace talks, Erdogan risked drawing the ire of Russian President Vladimir Putin by offering explicit support for Ukraine’s NATO aspiration.

“There is no doubt that Ukraine deserves NATO membership,” Erdogan told reporters in Istanbul.

While Zelensky is “right now” pushing for NATO membership, the White House has urged restraint and made clear that will not happen at next week’s summit in the Lithuanian capital Vilnius.

Meanwhile, Erdogan said he would personally brief Putin on the talks when the Kremlin chief makes his first visit to Turkey since the invasion next month.

The Turkish leader said he and Putin would discuss a possible prisoner swap as well as a possible extension of an agreement reached last year under which Ukraine was able to send grain to the global market.

The deal will expire on July 17 unless Russia agrees to renew it.

‘Progress’ on nuclear inspection

The head of the UN nuclear watchdog said on Friday it is “making progress” in inspecting several areas of the Zaporizhia nuclear plant in Ukraine, following claims that there has been mining.

Ukraine and Russia have accused each other of planning a provocation at the Russian-controlled site, raising concerns over the risk of a radioactive disaster at Europe’s largest nuclear plant.

Ukraine’s military claimed this week that “external objects such as explosive devices” had been placed on the outer roofs of the third and fourth reactors at the site.

IAEA chief Rafael Grossi said in Tokyo that International Atomic Energy Agency officials were “able to complete visits to the cooling ponds and other locations”.

“They haven’t seen any signs of explosives or mines,” he said, though he added that IAEA officials have not yet been able to visit the roofs of the facility.

Rescue workers found a 10th body in the rubble of buildings in Lviv on Friday following the biggest Russian missile attack on civilian infrastructure in the western Ukrainian city since the attack, its mayor said.

Ukraine’s Interior Ministry said 42 people, including three children, were also injured in the attack.

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