Zelenskyy visits Snake Island, hails ‘brave’ Ukraine on 500th day of war
Various international efforts to mediate in the conflict have so far failed.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has tried to portray himself as a neutral mediator, substantially boosting wartime trade with Russia while supplying Ukraine with drones and other weapons that helped keep Kremlin forces from seizing Kyiv in the first weeks of war.
But while reaffirming his longstanding call for both sides to enter peace talks, Erdogan risked drawing Russia’s ire by delivering unequivocal support for Ukraine’s NATO aspiration.
“There is no doubt that Ukraine deserves membership of NATO,” Erdogan told reporters in Istanbul.
Erdogan also said he would meet Russian President Vladimir Putin next month on what would be the Kremlin chief’s first visit to Turkey since the invasion.
The Turkish leader said he and Putin will discuss possible prisoner swaps, as well as a possible extension of a deal brokered last year under which Ukraine was able to ship grain to the global market.
The agreement will expire on Jul 17 unless Russia agrees to its renewal.
Asked about a possible meeting with Erdogan, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov was quoted by Russian news agencies on Saturday as saying: “Contact is possible. There are no fixed dates yet.”
SYMBOL OF DEFIANCE
Zelenskyy meanwhile vowed defiance in the video of him visiting Snake Island, which was captured by Russian forces shortly after the start of the invasion.
A radio exchange went viral in which Ukrainian soldiers told the crew of Russia’s attacking warship demanding their surrender to “go f*** yourself”.
The Ukrainian soldiers were taken prisoner but later exchanged for Russian captives.
The recording of this verbal exchange has gone around the world and served as a theme for the Ukrainian resistance, even appearing on placards during support rallies abroad and on stamps.
The Russian ship involved, the Moskva, sank in the Black Sea in April 2022 following what Moscow said was an explosion on board.
Ukraine said it had hit the warship with missiles.
Ukrainian forces recaptured the island in June last year.
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