Zelenskyy to meet Turkey's Erdogan to push Ukraine's Nato goals

Talks in Istanbul come ahead of 500th day since Russia's invasion

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has admitted that his country's counteroffensive is progressing slowly. AP
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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy will hold talks with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday on the latest leg of a tour to promote his country's push to join Nato and secure more weapons from allies.

The talks in Istanbul come on the eve of the 500th day since Russia's invasion, with Mr Zelenskyy admitting the Ukrainian counteroffensive was progressing slowly.

“But nevertheless, we are advancing, not retreating, like Russians,” he told reporters. “We now have the initiative.”

The talks with Mr Erdogan – an important broker in the conflict – are to focus on an expiring deal to ship Ukrainian grain across the Black Sea, as well as next week's Nato summit.

Analysts also expect Mr Zelenskyy to push Mr Erdogan to approve Sweden's Nato membership before the July 11 to July 12 meeting of the military alliance in the Lithuanian capital, Vilnius.

Turkey is blocking Sweden's candidacy because of a long-standing dispute about Stockholm's perceived lax attitude towards alleged Kurdish militants living in the Nordic country.

Mr Zelenskyy is seeking Nato membership for his own country, which has been battling a Russian invasion since February 2022.

He has said he wanted the summit to lead to an “invitation” to join the bloc.

Both Mr Zelenskyy and Mr Erdogan want to extend a UN and Turkey-brokered deal with Russia under which Ukraine has been allowed to ship grain to global markets during the war.

The deal will expire on July 17 unless Russia agrees to its renewal.

Updated: July 07, 2023, 6:26 AM