Zelenskyy Meets With Erdogan To Drum Up Support For NATO Membership


(RFE/RL) — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy says his talks with Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the end of a four-nation tour will cover next week’s NATO summit in Vilnius, security guarantees, and a Ukrainian grain export deal with Russia that Turkey helped broker last year.

Zelenskiy announced the topics to be discussed at the talks as he arrived in Istanbul on July 7 on the final leg of his tour.

“We are ending a busy day in Turkey. Negotiations with President Erdogan. Coordination of positions regarding the peace formula, the NATO summit, security guarantees and the grain initiative,” Zelenskiy said. Other topics to be discussed were reconstruction and defense contracts, he added.

Zelenkiy has been touring the last two days to drum up support for his country’s bid for an invitation to join NATO ahead of the military alliance’s summit next week.

His first stop was Bulgaria, where he received assurances of support from Prime Minister Nikolay Denkov and signed a declaration on Ukraine’s integration into Western organizations, namely NATO and the EU.

On a stop in Slovakia early on July 7, Zelenskiy met with Slovak President Zuzana Caputova and Prime Minister Ludovit Odor to discuss the situation on the front line of Ukraine’s war and Kyiv’s aspirations for the summit.

The Ukrainian president then traveled to Prague, where he met with Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala, who said that Ukraine’s future lies in the European Union and NATO while pledging further support — including military helicopters — for Kyiv as it battles to repel Russian troops who launched a full-scale invasion in February 2022.

“Ukraine is also fighting for us, for the security of the whole of Europe,” Fiala said.

Speaking at a joint news conference with Fiala, Zelenskiy appealed for long-range weapons, saying that without them “it is difficult not only to carry out an offensive mission but also to conduct a defensive operation.”

Another weapon Ukraine has requested, cluster munitions, will be sent in an upcoming package from the United States, U.S. national-security adviser Jake Sullivan confirmed on July 7. Sullivan told reporters that Washington will provide the controversial weapons, telling reporters that it is “the right thing to do.”

Kyiv has promised to use the munitions carefully, Sullivan said, adding that the U.S. will send a version that has a reduced “dud rate,” meaning fewer of the bomblets fail to explode.

Sullivan also commented on Ukraine’s membership aspirations, saying that Ukraine’s pathway to NATO will be discussed but not decided at the summit.

Kyiv “still has further steps that it needs to take before membership” and “will not be joining” at the current time, Sullivan said.

While many Western allies including the United States and NATO have been quick to pledge their full support for Ukraine for as long as it takes to win the battle against Russia, some division has been voiced on the speed at which Ukraine can be taken into the EU and NATO since it would move them even closer to the precipice of war with Russia.

In addition to next week’s NATO summit, Zelenskiy’s talks in Istanbul are expected to cover the Black Sea Grain Initiative, a deal to ship grain from Ukraine’s Black Sea ports that will expire on July 17.

Russia has so far not agreed to the renewal of the deal under which Ukraine has been able to ship grain to global markets despite the war. Moscow has said it sees no grounds to renew the agreement beyond July 17 because of obstacles to its own exports of grain and fertilizers.

Turkey, which brokered the deal last year, has called for its extension.

Speaking on July 5, Rebeca Grynspan, the head of the United Nations’ trade and development agency UNCTAD, said the UN is worried about the survival of the grain export deal which could threaten food security for developing countries.


RFE/RL journalists report the news in 21 countries where a free press is banned by the government or not fully established.

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