Zelensky warns of the “threat” to security posed by NATO disunity | International

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The great Russian invasion of Ukraine celebrates 500 days this Saturday and President Volodímir Zelenski accelerates his international agenda with the aim of strengthening the agreements that bring Kiev closer to NATO, whose summit begins on Tuesday in Vilnius (Lithuania). Carrot and stick in hand, the president thanks the support while criticizing, as he did in Bratislava, what he considers a lack of unity within NATO to accept the entry of Ukraine and Sweden (although the Swedish case is radically distinct). And those differences, he understands, pose a "threat" with repercussions for the security of the entire world. "Unity is the strength of NATO" and "disunity" is what Russia is seeking, he added.

After visiting Bulgaria, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, the Ukrainian president arrived in Turkey late this Friday. There, in addition to insisting on the need to be welcomed into the Atlantic Alliance, he will try to close the extension of the agreement that allows his country to export cereals through the Black Sea, the only point of understanding between Kiev and Moscow since the invasion. That pact, valid until July 17, was sponsored by Turkey and the UN, but Russia has not been in favor of its renewal. In the midst of a frenetic activity that has led him to travel to four countries in two days, Zelenski is also trying to gather support for his peace initiative, which is based on the condition that there will be no negotiations without the Russian vacating all Ukraine, including the Crimean peninsula.

Zelenski has been sending messages throughout his tour, almost always with his eyes on Vilnius. Also in the decalogue for peace that he proposes in his country and in bilateral cooperation to be able to face the Russian occupation. “We have discussed the need to raise the tone of sanctions against Russia from the EU and other organizations, as well as cooperation to advance the path for Ukraine's full integration into the European Union and NATO,” the president said in the afternoon. on Friday through social networks after his visit to the Czech Republic. Zelenski was scheduled to appear later with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan after their meeting. The Turkish president plans to transmit his impressions of the meeting by telephone to his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, according to the Reuters agency.

Turkey, a NATO member that just re-elected Erdogan, is a key country in the war by maintaining bridges with both Russia and Ukraine. The president has not approved the sanctions against Moscow, but, at the same time, he delivers arms to kyiv and defends its territorial integrity.

NATO integration is a mantra that Zelensky does not forget. The Ukrainian president came to talk about a possible World War III if Russia wins. He did it last week during a meeting with several Spanish media, including EL PAÍS. “If Ukraine doesn't resist and Russia advances into Poland or the Baltics, that would mean World War III,” he said. Placing Kiev under the cloak of NATO is the best way to put pressure on Putin, one of whose arguments for ordering the current invasion is that he cannot afford to have the Alliance on Moscow's doorstep. "We do not admit any other alternative," Zelenski insists on integrating into the organization.

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During the visit to Turkey, the grain agreement is the key point on the Ukrainian agenda. “Unlike the Russian Federation, Ukraine fully complies with the commitments of the Black Sea agreement and is ready to support world food security. We make a civilized appeal to support the extension of this pact after July 17," Ukrainian Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov, also one of the government's deputy prime ministers, claimed on Thursday from his profile on the social network Twitter. Previously, on July 1, he denounced that up to 29 ships loaded with 1.4 million metric tons of cereal were blocked in the Bosphorus, unable to continue their journey since June 26 awaiting an inspection, by decision of Russia.

"It is obvious that there are no grounds for the continuation of the Black Sea initiative," Russian Foreign Ministry sources said on Tuesday. "The normalization of Russian supplies of food and fertilizer to world markets, provided for by the Russia-UN agreement, has continued to deteriorate," they added.

Ukraine accuses Russia of trying to block the renewal of the grain deal and preventing its smooth development. Moscow disgraces Kiev for having turned the agreement into a tool with which to make money and not with which to help poor countries hit by the world food crisis. The full-scale Russian invasion launched in February 2022 blocked millions of metric tons of Ukrainian territory. The pact, sponsored by the UN and Turkey, allows since August 1 of last year to export cereal from three Black Sea ports.

One of the giants of the sector in Ukraine, aware of the difficulties that depending on an agreement with the aggressor country could cause, decided to bet on operating from the Ukrainian bank of the Danube River. "We decided to have a more expensive logistics route, but a safer route," Andri Vadaturski, director of the Nibulon company, told Reuters. Vadaturski took over the firm's helm after a Russian attack killed his parents last summer. The company's exports have been roughly halved during the Russian invasion and logistics costs have skyrocketed, he commented during an interview with the agency at its Kiev offices. During the 2022-2023 campaign, Nibulon exported 2.34 million metric tons, compared to 4.6 million tons the previous year. The price of loading a ton in the ship's hold has gone from 12 dollars before the war to the current 70-75, although they reached 154 last August.

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