In a significant diplomatic manoeuvre, Turkey has expressed crucial support for Ukraine’s bid to join NATO, a development greeted with caution by US President Joe Biden, citing the divisive nature of the move among alliance members amid Russia’s invasion.
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy announced the promising result following his talks with Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in Istanbul, as the conflict marked its 500th day on Saturday. The Ukrainian leader lauded Turkey’s consistent support for his country’s territorial sovereignty and hoped that their united efforts could further contribute to peace and stability.
On the sidelines of the meeting, the two leaders also signed military production agreements, including the manufacture of drones. Zelenskiy extended an invitation to Turkey to partake in the massive task of rebuilding and transforming war-torn Ukraine.
Although the meeting was under the watchful eye of the Kremlin, which has been making diplomatic strides to nurture relations with Turkey, Erdogan confirmed his unwavering support for Ukraine’s NATO aspiration. “There is no doubt that Ukraine deserves membership of NATO,” he said in a joint press briefing.
Nonetheless, President Biden expressed reservations about the timing, during a CNN interview aired on Friday. He argued that the current ongoing conflict could escalate the situation, putting the entire NATO alliance in a state of war with Russia.
Next month, Erdogan is set to brief Russian President Vladimir Putin on these negotiations during his visit to Turkey – the first since the invasion began. Their discussion will encompass potential prisoner exchanges, an area where Erdogan has proven effective in the past, and the status of the Black Sea grain deal crucial to Ukraine’s exports.
As anticipation builds for the upcoming NATO summit in Vilnius, leaders are expected to affirm Ukraine’s potential membership and strategize on strengthening its ties with the alliance, according to NATO’s secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg. His strong words emphasised NATO’s unity and Russia’s futile aggression.
However, the path to NATO membership remains complex for Ukraine. The US national security adviser Jake Sullivan stated that further steps are required before Kyiv can be officially welcomed into the NATO fold.
As the conflict drags on, President Zelenskiy is vigorously campaigning across Europe for more powerful weapons to bolster a sluggish counteroffensive against entrenched Russian forces. Despite human rights criticism, the Ukrainian president appreciated the controversial US decision to supply banned cluster munitions, describing them as a “timely, broad, and much-needed” measure.
In other news, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) officials reported significant progress inspecting several areas of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in Ukraine. Contrary to previous reports of explosives, the IAEA found no such indications, though they were unable to visit the facility’s rooftops, where alleged explosive devices were suspected. Both Ukraine and Russia continue to exchange accusations about potential threats to Europe’s largest nuclear plant.
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