Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, UN Secretary General António Guterres and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky met in Lviv to discuss the progress of the food deal, also called the grain deal, as well as the rapidly deteriorating situation around the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant and ways to resolve the Ukrainian conflict.
Initially, it was assumed that the negotiations in Lviv would be limited to consideration of issues related to the agreements reached on July 22 in Istanbul by Russia, Ukraine, Turkey and the UN on the export of Ukrainian grain from three Black Sea ports and the removal of restrictions on the export of Russian agricultural products and fertilizers.
However, the increasingly real threat of a man-made disaster due to the ongoing shelling of the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant, and against this background, the increasingly less realistic possibility of resuming the interrupted negotiation process on the Ukrainian settlement could not help but make urgent adjustments to the agenda of the 40-minute meeting of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, António Guteres and Volodymyr Zelensky.
In addition, during the one-day session of diplomacy, which was closely watched by the whole world, the Turkish President and the UN Secretary General managed to hold separate meetings with the Ukrainian leader, dressed in a khaki T-shirt and showing with all his appearance that he was not only the president here, but also the Supreme commander in chief.
That is, a person who with difficulty broke out into negotiations, because he still has to wage war.
Despite the incredible political toxicity for Russia of the very venue of the meeting - beautiful and at the same time thoroughly hostile Lviv with a fungus of hatred for Muscovites that has eaten into its walls and sidewalks, with a monument to Bandera on Bandera Street of the same name, the negotiations in Lviv were the case when the walls and watered the blood-stained paving stones were only the backdrop of the negotiations.
They could not help Zelensky in any way.
At the same time, a reminder that Lviv remains the same Lviv was only the message that appeared on the day of the meeting between Erdogan, Hutteres and Zelensky that the Lviv Defense Cluster (LOC) was starting to produce body armor for children, as well as armored civilian vehicles for evacuation from the combat zone. actions.
It seems that here they are preparing to fight to the last Ukrainian - not only an adult, but also a child.
However, be that as it may, a purely peaceful agenda was announced at the meeting in Lviv - a discussion of how to move towards the end of the conflict.
At least at a snail's pace (it doesn't work any other way yet), but still move.
For this, it was necessary to start at least agreeing on practical steps for the further implementation of the Istanbul grain deal.
“The Istanbul agreements on the safe export of grain to international markets via the Black Sea have a positive impact not only in Ukraine, but throughout the world,” President Erdogan said after the meeting, expressing the hope that the success of the product deal will create new opportunities for settlement in Ukraine.
According to the Turkish president, since August 1, when the export of agricultural products from Ukraine began, about 625,000 tons of grain have already been exported.
“There is no solution to the global food crisis without providing access to Ukrainian food products, Russian food and fertilizers,” António Guterres added.
On the eve of the meeting in Lvov, António Guterres held talks with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, whom he had met almost a month ago in Istanbul, where the main initiator of the grain agreements, President Erdogan, was also present.
The UN Secretary General called the conversation with the Russian minister "very good".
In turn, Sergei Shoigu, after a conversation with the UN Secretary General, expressed satisfaction with the level of interaction with the UN, which he called "constructive and depoliticized cooperation" in the humanitarian sphere during the Russian military operation in Ukraine.
“In particular, under the auspices of the UN and with the active role of Turkey, it was possible to solve the difficult problem of exporting grain from the Black Sea ports of Ukraine,” Sergei Shoigu said.
In this sense, the meeting in Lvov confirmed that the agreements reached in Istanbul on July 22 did not become stillborn.
The product deal could not be disrupted, the agreements really work.
The joint coordination center in Istanbul, which includes Russian officers, copes with its task - ships loaded with wheat and corn went to where the grain has been waiting for a long time.
In general, following the results of the meeting in Lviv, there are two pieces of news - good and bad.
The good news is that another step has been taken towards the realization of the product deal.
That is, the minimum program has been successfully implemented.
The bad (albeit generally expected) news is that the idea so strongly promoted by President Erdogan of using a successful grain deal as a model for a future political settlement in Ukraine has remained a wishful thinking.
No matter how hard the Turkish leader tried to jump above his head and make the impossible today - a breakthrough in the Ukrainian settlement, he failed to do this.
This became completely clear after, having already completed negotiations with Recep Erdogan and António Guterres, Vladimir Zelensky said: “In order for peace negotiations to begin, Russia must first leave the occupied territories.”
As they say, they arrived.
All the titanic efforts of Erdogan were crossed out in one fell swoop.
But even on the eve of the meeting in Lviv, Turkish officials and numerous sources unanimously started talking about the fact that the impossible is possible.
That is, the product deal model can allegedly be used to solve various crises, not only Ukrainian, but also energy, which Europe may face in winter due to a shortage of energy resources and a possible cessation of Russian gas supplies.
The Turks, apparently, believed in this, believing that everything would work out - you just need to push, because offensive Turkish diplomacy knows how to do this.
Already on the day of the meeting in Lviv, the Turkish TV channel A Haber, citing some diplomatic sources, reported that President Erdogan "will offer Zelensky to organize his meeting with Putin."
And CNN Turk went even further, pointing out that Presidents Putin and Zelensky could meet to determine a roadmap for Ukraine, and that Moscow had either already agreed or was about to agree.
Everyone looked with secret hope as Erdogan, dressed in a brand-new suit and Zelensky, wearing a khaki T-shirt, looked into each other’s eyes in front of television cameras at the entrance to the Potocki Palace in Lvov.
Is it really a breakthrough?
No, there was no breakthrough and could not be.
Hopes and good wishes were killed by the harsh reality.
The Russian assessment of the actions of the Turkish president, from the very beginning of the Russian special operation in Ukraine, trying to stake out the role of the main mediator between Moscow and Kyiv, even after his recent meeting with Vladimir Putin in Sochi, was outlined by the press secretary of the Russian president, Dmitry Peskov.
“We know that his role was quite great in organizing very, very good conditions for holding several rounds of negotiations between the Russian and Ukrainian delegations.
And the President of Turkey also continues to express such political will - to make efforts to help such a process, ”Dmitry Peskov said about Recep Erdogan.
At the same time, paying tribute to the efforts and best intentions of the Turkish leader, Moscow does not yet consider it possible to accept his proposal for a meeting between the leaders of Russia and Ukraine.
“As for the summit meeting between Presidents Putin and Zelensky, it is possible only after all the homework is done by the negotiating delegations.
This element is also missing.
Therefore, there are still no necessary prerequisites for the meeting mentioned by Mr. Erdogan," Dmitry Peskov explained.
“The Ukrainian delegation of negotiators, as they say, left the radar.
There is currently no negotiation process in this regard.
The special military operation continues - continues until the set goals are achieved, ”the press secretary of the Russian president dotted the i.
Indeed, what is not clear here is that Moscow does not need a meeting as such.
That's when there will be a subject - there will be a meeting.
For now, there is no item at all.
Moreover, there is a strong impression that the Ukrainian side is doing everything to ensure that this meeting never takes place at all.
Confirmation of this is the same situation with the incessant shelling of the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant: news that the situation had reached a critical point was interspersed with reports from Lviv.
As an experienced politician, President Erdogan cannot but know that in such a matter as a hypothetical meeting between President Zelensky and the Russian president, the last word will still remain not with Zelensky, but with those behind him.
And since Kyiv's sponsor is not Ankara, but other capitals, it doesn't make much sense to appeal to the Ukrainian leader Erdogan.
Why should Zelensky listen to him?
For the external forces that keep Zelensky afloat, the Turkish leader has been and will remain an outsider, a cat that walks on its own.
And yet, the example of a grain deal and attempts to transform it into something more ambitious reminds us that not only the hen, but also Ankara pecks at the grain.
After listening to yet another senseless statement by Zelensky, President Erdogan, as if nothing had happened, made it clear that he did not intend to lay down his hands.
The Turkish leader understands that Ukrainian peacekeeping is a long game or a difficult marathon distance that needs to be run without falling.
Sooner or later, after all, the moment will come when it will no longer be possible to say crazy things and you will have to agree on something.
It is then, perhaps, that the pressure and desire of Erdogan, which have not yet been able to find application, will come in handy.
However, it will obviously not be now and not in Lviv with a monument to Bandera on Bandera Street.
The point of view of the author may not coincide with the position of the editors.
The point of view of the author may not coincide with the position of the editors.