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Friday, August 19, 2022  
 
 
 
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Zelenskyy to Host Lviv Talks With UN   08/18 06:09

   As a potential power broker, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will use 
his first visit to Ukraine since the war started nearly six months ago to seek 
ways to expand the export of grain from Europe's breadbasket to the world's 
needy while U.N. Secretary-General Antnio Guterres will focus on containing 
the volatile situation at a Russian-occupied nuclear power plant.

   LVIV, Ukraine (AP) -- As a potential power broker, Turkish President Recep 
Tayyip Erdogan will use his first visit to Ukraine since the war started nearly 
six months ago to seek ways to expand the export of grain from Europe's 
breadbasket to the world's needy while U.N. Secretary-General Antnio Guterres 
will focus on containing the volatile situation at a Russian-occupied nuclear 
power plant.

   Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is hosting both men far away from 
the front lines, in the western city of Lviv, where diplomatic efforts to help 
end the war will also be on the agenda.

   Meanwhile, the screams of incoming shells still overpowered the whispers of 
diplomacy.

   A total of 11 people were killed and 40 wounded in a series of massive 
Russian missile strikes on Ukraine's Kharkiv region on Wednesday night and 
Thursday morning.

   The late Wednesday attack on Kharkiv killed at least seven people, wounded 
20 others and damaged residential buildings and civilian infrastructure, 
authorities said.

   At the same time, The Russian Defense Ministry on Thursday morning claimed 
it targeted "a temporary base of foreign mercenaries" in the city of Kharkiv, 
killing 90 of them.

   U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said the three leaders will also discuss 
the situation at the Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in 
southern Ukraine, Europe's largest, which Moscow and Kyiv have accused each 
other of shelling.

   In his nightly video address Wednesday, Zelensky reaffirmed his demand for 
the Russian military to leave the plant, emphasizing that "only absolute 
transparency and control of the situation" by, among others, the U.N.'s 
International Atomic Energy Agency, could guarantee a return to nuclear safety.

   Russia played up the threats the plant posed in wartime. Lt. Gen. Igor 
Kirillov, the commander of the Russian military's radiological, chemical and 
biological protection forces, charged that the Ukrainian troops were planning 
to strike the plant again on Friday while Guterres will still be visiting 
Ukraine in order to accuse Russia of nuclear terrorism. Ukraine has steadfastly 
denied that it's targeting the plant.

   Kirillov said an emergency at the plant could see "a discharge of 
radioactive substances into the atmosphere and spreading them to hundreds of 
kilometers away ... An emergency of this kind will cause massive migration and 
will have more catastrophic consequences than the looming gas energy crisis in 
Europe."

   With such stakes, the role of a go-between like Erdogan could become ever 
more important.

   Erdogan, whose nation is a member of NATO which backs Ukraine in the war, 
also oversees a wobbly economy that has been increasingly reliant on Russia for 
trade. That backdrop turns Thursday's meetings in Lviv into a walk on a 
diplomatic tightrope. Earlier this month, the Turkish leader met on the same 
issues with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

   Erdogan is set to have a one-hour meeting with Zelenskyy in the early 
afternoon before both are joined by Guterres.

   Last month, Turkey and the U.N. helped broker an agreement clearing the way 
for Ukraine to export 22 million tons of corn and other grain stuck in its 
Black Sea ports since Russia invaded Feb. 24. A separate memorandum between 
Russia and the U.N. aimed to clear roadblocks to shipments of Russian food and 
fertilizer to world markets.

   The war and the blocked exports significantly exacerbated the global food 
crisis because Ukraine and Russia are major suppliers. Turkey is in a position 
to help speed up exports, which have been reduced to a trickle so far.

   Grain prices peaked after Russia's invasion, and while some have since 
returned to prewar levels, they remain significantly higher than before the 
COVID-19 pandemic.

   Developing countries have been hit particularly hard by supply shortages and 
high prices. Even though ships are now leaving Russia and Ukraine, the food 
crisis hasn't ended.

   Before his meetings, Guterres visited Ivan Franko National University of 
Lviv, Ukraine's oldest, and praised the role of academic institutions in 
building democratic institutions in a brief statement to reporters. He made no 
comment on the substance of the visit. If grain transports and nuclear security 
are issues where some progress could be made, talks about an overall end to the 
conflict weren't expected to yield anything substantive.

   In March, Turkey hosted a round of talks between Russian and Ukrainian 
negotiators, who discussed a possible deal to end the hostilities. The talks 
fell apart after the meeting in Istanbul, 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 drones, which 
played a significant role in deterring a Russian advance early in the conflict, 
but it has refrained from joining Western sanctions against Russia over the war.

   Facing a major economic crisis with official inflation near 80%, Turkey 
increasingly relies on Russia for trade and tourism. Russian gas covers 45% of 
Turkish 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 
bolster energy, financial and other ties between their countries, raising 
concerns in the West that Ankara could help Moscow bypass the U.S. and European 
Union sanctions.

 
 
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