Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Turkey's leader and the U.N. chief met in Ukraine with President Volodymr Zelenskyy on Thursday in a high-powered bid to ratchet down a war raging for nearly six months. But little immediate progress was reported. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he would follow up with Russian President Vladimir Putin, given that most of the matters discussed would require the Kremlin's agreement. With the meetings held at such a high level — it was the first visit to Ukraine by Erdogan since the war began, and the second by U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres — some had hoped for breakthroughs, if not toward an overall peace, then at least on specific issues. But none was apparent. Meeting in the western city of Lviv, far from the front lines, the leaders discussed expanding exchanges of prisoners of war and arranging for U.N. atomic energy experts to visit and help secure Europe's biggest nuclear power plant, which is in the middle of fierce fighting that has raised fears of catastrophe. Erdogan has positioned himself as a go-between in efforts to stop the fighting. While Turkey is a member of NATO, its wobbly economy is reliant on Russia for trade, and it has tried to steer a middle course between the two combatants. The Turkish president urged the international community after the talks not to abandon diplomatic efforts to end the war that has killed tens of thousands and forced more than 10 million Ukrainians from their homes. He repeated that Turkey is willing to act as “mediator and facilitator” and added, “I remain convinced that the war will end at the negotiating table.” In March, Turkey hosted talks in Istanbul between Russian and Ukrainian negotiators that failed to end the hostilities. On the battlefield, meanwhile, at least 17 people were killed overnight in heavy Russian missile strikes on Ukraine’s Kharkiv region, Ukrainian authorities said Thursday. Russia's military claimed that it struck a base for foreign mercenaries in Kharkiv, killing 90. There was no immediate comment from the Ukrainian side. Read:Ukraine’s Zelenskyy hosts talks with UN chief, Turkey leader In the latest incident on Russian soil near the border with Ukraine, an ammunition dump caught fire in a village in the Belgorod region, the regional governor said. No casualties were reported. Video posted online, whose authenticity couldn’t be verified, showed orange flames and black smoke, with the sound of multiple explosions. Elsewhere, Russian officials reported that anti-aircraft defenses shot down drones in the Russian-occupied Crimean Peninsula at Kerch and near the Belbek airfield in the Black Sea port of Sevastopol. Explosions in recent weeks on the peninsula have destroyed warplanes and caused other damage at military airfields. Heightening international tensions, Russia deployed warplanes carrying state-of-the-art hypersonic missiles to its Kaliningrad region, an enclave surrounded by NATO members Lithuania and Poland. One major topic at the talks in Lviv was the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in southern Ukraine. Moscow and Kyiv have accused each other of shelling the complex. Condemning the Kremlin for what he called "nuclear blackmail,” Zelenskyy demanded that Russian troops leave the plant and that a team from the U.N.'s International Atomic Energy Agency be allowed in. “The area needs to be demilitarized, and we must tell it as it is: Any potential damage in Zaporizhzhia is suicide,” Guterres said at a news conference. Erdogan likewise expressed concern over the fighting around the plant, saying, “We don’t want to experience another Chernobyl" — a reference to the world’s worst nuclear accident, in Ukraine in 1986. Zelenskyy and the U.N. chief agreed Thursday on arrangements for an IAEA mission to the plant, according to the president's website. But it was not immediately clear whether the Kremlin would consent to the terms. As for a pullout of troops, a Russian Foreign Ministry official said earlier that that would leave the plant “vulnerable." Fears mounted Thursday when Russian and Ukrainian authorities accused each other of plotting to attack the site and then blame the other side. Late Thursday, multiple rounds of Ukrainian shelling struck the city in which the power plant is located, a Russian official reported. Guterres used the talks in Lviv to name Gen. Carlos dos Santos Cruz of Brazil to lead a previously announced U.N. fact-finding mission to the Olenivka prison where 53 Ukrainian POWs were killed in an explosion in July. Russia and Ukraine have blamed each other for the blast. Also on the agenda Thursday: an increase in grain exports. Earlier this summer, the U.N. and Turkey brokered an agreement clearing the way for Ukraine to export 22 million tons of corn and other grain stuck in its Black Sea ports since the Russian invasion. The blockage has worsened world food shortages, driven up prices and heightened fears of famine, especially in Africa. Yet even with the deal, only a trickle of Ukrainian grain has made it out — some 600,000 tons by Turkey's estimate. Zelenskyy said Thursday that he proposed expanding the shipments. Guterres, for his part, touted the operation's success but added, “There is a long way to go before this will be translated into the daily life of people at their local bakery and in their markets.”
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is due to host the U.N. chief and Turkey’s leader Thursday for talks on the recent deal to resume Ukraine’s grain exports, the volatile situation at a Russian-occupied nuclear power plant and efforts to help end the nearly six-month-old war. U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres arrived Wednesday in Lviv, near Ukraine’s border with Poland, where he will meet Zelenskyy and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is making his first trip to Ukraine since the war started. U.N. deputy spokesman Farhan Haq said that among other issues, Guterres will discuss “his overall efforts to do what he can to essentially lower the temperature as much as possible with the various authorities.” 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. 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. Read:Crimea 'sabotage' highlights Russia's woes in Ukraine war U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters this week that Guterres’ trip to Ukraine will allow him “to see first-hand the results of an initiative … that is so critically important to hundreds of millions of people.” Dujarric added that he expects “the need for a political solution” to the war to be raised in Thursday’s talks. He 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 at and around the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant for the Ukrainian state, for the international community, and for the IAEA can guarantee a gradual return to normal nuclear safety.” The International Atomic Energy Agency is a U.N. agency. Russia has rejected the demand. Erdogan’s office has confirmed that he would discuss the grain deal during the talks as well as ways to end the war through diplomatic means. Earlier this month, the Turkish leader met on the same issues with Russian President Vladimir Putin. 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. On Wednesday night, Russian forces shelled Kharkiv and the surrounding region in northeast Ukraine, killing at least seven people, wounding 20 others and damaging residential buildings and civilian infrastructure, authorities said.
The first face-to-face talks in two weeks between Russia and Ukraine began Tuesday in Turkey, raising flickering hopes of progress to end to a war that has ground into a bloody campaign of attrition. Ahead of the talks in Istanbul, the Ukrainian president said his country is prepared to declare its neutrality, as Moscow has demanded, and is open to compromise over the contested eastern region of Donbas — comments that might lend momentum to negotiations. But he warned the “ruthless war” continued and that Ukrainians were paying with their lives for the West's hesitancy on imposing tougher sanctions on Moscow. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told the two sides gathered for talks that they had a “historic responsibility” to stop the fighting. “We believe that there will be no losers in a just peace. Prolonging the conflict is not in anyone’s interest,” Erdogan said, as he greeted the two delegations seated on opposite sides of a long table. Also in the room was Roman Abramovich, owner of Chelsea Football Club and a longtime ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin who has been playing an unspecified mediating role. Read:New round of talks aims to stop the fighting in Ukraine Putin’s aim of a quick military victory has been thwarted by stiff Ukrainian resistance — but still hopes were not high for a breakthrough. British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, reflecting skepticism among Ukraine's Western allies, said she thought the Russian president was “not serious about talks.” In fighting that has devolved into a back-and-forth stalemate, Ukrainian forces retook Irpin, a key suburb northwest of the capital, Kyiv, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said late Monday. But he warned that Russian troops were regrouping to take the area back. “We still have to fight, we have to endure,” Zelenskyy said in his nighttime video address to the nation. “This is a ruthless war against our nation, against our people, against our children.” Earlier talks between the sides, held in person in Belarus or by video, failed to make progress on ending the more than month-long war that has killed thousands and driven more than 10 million Ukrainians from their homes — including almost 4 million from their country. Russia has long demanded that Ukraine drop any hope of joining NATO, which Moscow sees as a threat. Zelenskyy indicated over the weekend he was open to that, saying Ukraine was ready to declare its neutrality, but he has stressed that the country needs security guarantees of its own as part of any deal. As well as Irpin, Ukrainian forces also seized back control of Trostyanets, south of Sumy in the northeast, after weeks of Russian occupation that has left a landscape devastated by war. Arriving in the town Monday shortly afterward, The Associated Press saw the bodies of two Russian soldiers lay abandoned in the woods and Russian tanks lay burned and twisted. A red “Z” marked a Russian truck, its windshield fractured, near stacked boxes of ammunition. Ukrainian forces piled atop a tank flashed victory signs. Dazed residents lined up amid charred buildings seeking aid. It was unclear where the Russian troops went, under what circumstances they fled and whether the town will remain free of them. In his overnight address, Zelenskyy emphasized the situation remains tense in Ukraine’s northeast around Kharkiv, the nearest large city, and other areas, as he pressed Western countries to do more to support Ukraine, including levying harsher sanctions on Russia and providing more weapons. “If someone is afraid of Russia, if he or she is afraid to make the necessary decisions that are important to us, in particular for us to get planes, tanks, necessary artillery, shells, it makes these people responsible for the catastrophe created by Russian troops in our cities, too,” he said. “Fear always makes you an accomplice.” But the returned presence of Ukrainian forces in Trostyanets was a relief for a country hoping that Russian forces are pulling back as they encounter fierce resistance. Read:UN chief wants Ukraine humanitarian cease-fire Putin’s ground forces have become bogged down because of the stronger-than-expected Ukrainian resistance, combined with what Western officials say are Russian tactical missteps, poor morale, shortages of food, fuel and cold weather gear, and other problems. In response, Russia appeared to be concentrating more on the Donbas, the predominantly Russian-speaking region where Moscow-backed rebels have been waging a separatist war for eight years, the official said. While that raised a possible face-saving exit strategy for Putin, it has also raised Ukrainian fears the Kremlin aims to split the country, forcing it to surrender a swath of its territory. Still, Zelenskyy's comments that he was open to compromise on the region indicated a possible path for negotiations. In other developments: — Russia has destroyed more than 60 religious buildings across the country in just over a month of war, with most of the damage concentrated near Kyiv and in the east, Ukraine’s military said in a post Tuesday. It said the Orthodox church – the country’s majority religion – was the most affected but that mosques, synagogues, Protestant churches and religious schools were also destroyed. — Bloomberg News said it has suspended its operations in Russia and Belarus. Customers in both countries won't be able to access any Bloomberg financial products and trading functions for Russian securities were disabled in line with international sanctions, it said. Bloomberg Philanthropies pledged $40 million, meanwhile, in support for Ukrainians and refugees. — U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres launched an effort to achieve a humanitarian cease-fire that would allow aid to be brought in and people to move around safely. In the besieged southern port of Mariupol, the mayor said half the pre-war population of more than 400,000 has fled, often under fire, during weeks of shooting and shelling. Alina Beskrovna, who escaped the city in a convoy of cars and made it to Poland, said desperate people are melting snow for water and cooking on open fires despite the risk of bombardment, "because if you don’t, you will have nothing to eat.” “A lot of people are just, I think, starving to death in their apartments right now with no help," she said. "It’s a mass murder that’s happening at the hands of the Russians.”
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Saturday that he had ordered 10 foreign ambassadors who called for the release of a jailed philanthropist to be declared persona non grata. The envoys, including the U.S., French and German representatives in Ankara, issued a statement earlier this week calling for a resolution to the case of Osman Kavala, a businessman and philanthropist held in prison since 2017 despite not having been convicted of a crime. Describing the statement as an “impudence,” Erdogan said he had ordered the ambassadors be declared undesirable. Read: Turkish leaders condemn Charlie Hebdo cartoon of Erdogan “I gave the instruction to our foreign minister and said ‘You will immediately handle the persona non grata declaration of these 10 ambassadors,’” Erdogan said during a rally in the western city of Eskisehir. He added: “They will recognize, understand and know Turkey. The day they don’t know or understand Turkey, they will leave.” The diplomats, who also include the ambassadors of the Netherlands, Canada, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Norway and New Zealand, were summoned to the foreign ministry on Tuesday. A declaration of persona non grata against a diplomat usually means that individual is banned from remaining in their host country. Kavala, 64, was acquitted last year of charges linked to nationwide anti-government protests in 2013, but the ruling was overturned and joined to charges relating to a 2016 coup attempt. International observers and human rights groups have repeatedly called for the release of Kavala and Kurdish politician Selahattin Demirtas, who has been jailed since 2016. They say their imprisonment is based on political considerations. Ankara denies the claims and insists on the independence of Turkish courts. Read: Erdogan urges world countries for joint efforts in combating COVID-19 The European Court of Human Rights called for Kavala's release in 2019, saying his incarceration acted to silence him and wasn't supported by evidence of an offense. The Council of Europe says it will start infringement proceedings again Turkey at the end of November if Kavala is not released. The current U.S. ambassador, David Satterfield, was appointed in 2019. The nomination of his replacement, Jeff Flake, was approved by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday. After Erdogan's order was reported, the State Department said in a statement, “We are aware of these reports and are seeking clarity from the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs.”
Turkish officials on Wednesday railed against French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo over its cover-page cartoon mocking Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and accused the publication of sowing “the seeds of hatred and animosity.”
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will visit Bangladesh as soon as COVID-19 pandemic is over either to attend on finale event of "Mujib Borsho" on March 17 or D-8 Summit.
Turkey's president has rejected the resignation of the country's interior minister who took responsibility for a poorly timed announcement of a weekend lockdown that prompted thousands of people to rush into the streets to stock up on supplies.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday said a total of 39 locations across the country are put under quarantine due to the rising number of confirmed cases for COVID-19.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday urged the world countries to exert immediate joint efforts to combat the outbreak of the COVID-19, local media reported.