Fresh Russian strikes hit cities across Ukraine, crippling the country's energy infrastructure amid plummeting temperatures as fighting enters its 268th day.

President Erdogan thanked his Ukrainian counterpart Zelenskyy for his “constructive attitude” toward the extension of the landmark grain deal.
President Erdogan thanked his Ukrainian counterpart Zelenskyy for his “constructive attitude” toward the extension of the landmark grain deal. (AA Archive)

Friday, November 18, 2022

Turkish, Ukrainian leaders discuss ongoing conflict, grain deal

The Turkish and Ukrainian presidents spoke over the phone and discussed the developments in the ongoing conflict between Moscow and Kiev and the Türkiye-brokered grain deal.

According to the Turkish presidency, Recep Tayyip Erdogan thanked his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelenskyy for his “constructive attitude” toward the extension of the landmark grain deal.

Noting the positive experiences gained from the grain agreement and the prisoner exchange, Erdogan said it would benefit everyone to extend this understanding to the negotiation avenue, particularly the ceasefire.

Kremlin: West could help organise Russia-Ukraine peace talks

The West could help organise stable Russian-Ukrainian peace talks, the Kremlin said.

"Communication with the West could also be a guiding, reinforcing, and strengthening element of such communication (Russian-Ukrainian peace talks), because the directives that come from there are very scrupulously implemented by Kiev," spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said at a press briefing in Moscow.

Commenting on remarks by Italian politician Silvio Berlusconi, who suggested "luring" Russia's President Vladimir Putin to a meeting with his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Peskov recommended that Zelenskyy first be "lured."

Poland says will not allow Russian delegation at OSCE talks

Poland will not allow a Russian delegation to attend a meeting of the world's largest regional security body next month, the country's foreign ministry said.

Spokesperson Lukasz Jasina replied in the affirmative when asked by AFP news agency whether Moscow was being refused access to the December meeting of the Organization for Security and Co-operation (OSCE), of which Russia is a member.

Ukraine is also a member of the body.

Second Russian fertiliser shipment bound for W. Africa: UN

After a first shipment of Russian fertiliser blocked in European ports heads for Malawi next week, a second batch should go to West Africa, the United Nations said.

The news follows talks between Moscow and the UN this week aimed at ensuring that vital Russian fertiliser exports are not snagged by the Western sanctions imposed after the offensive on Ukraine, in a bid to ease the global food insecurity crisis.

While hailing a positive step, Rebeca Grynspan, head of the UN's trade and development agency who was closely involved in the talks, said more was needed to avert a global fertiliser shortage. 

Russia accuses Ukraine of executing more than 10 prisoners of war

Russia accused Kiev of executing several surrendering soldiers in what Moscow said constituted a "war crime," the latest allegation of abuse after months of fighting in Ukraine.

Moscow's claims come after the UN this week published a report saying prisoners of war on both sides had been subjected to torture and ill-treatment.

"No one will be able to paint the deliberate and methodical murder of more than ten restrained Russian soldiers... who were shot in the head, as a 'tragic exception,'" the Russian defence ministry said. 

Finland unveils plan for 200-km fence on Russian border

Finland unveiled a plan to increase security on its border with Russia, including a 200-kilometre fence, after the offensive on Ukraine sparked tensions along the border. 

"In this situation, we have every reason to reconsider our arrangements," Brigadier General Jari Tolppanen of the Finnish Border Guard agency told AFP.

Some 200 kilometres of the 1,300-kilometre border would be fenced at a cost of around 380 million euros ($394 million), the border agency said. 

Russia is 'fortifying' annexed Crimean peninsula: official

Russia has said it was strengthening positions on the Crimean peninsula, illegally annexed from Ukraine in 2014, as Kiev's forces reclaim territory in the neighbouring Kherson region.

"Fortification work is being carried out on the territory of Crimea under my control with the aim of guaranteeing the security of all Crimeans," the Moscow-backed governor of the region, Sergei Aksyonov, said on social media.

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said his forces intend to recapture the peninsula, too.

EU's Russia sanctions a 'step towards war': Hungary PM

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban called EU sanctions against Russia "a step towards war", describing the bloc's Russia policy as dangerous.

"It's a step towards war, if someone intervenes economically in a military conflict," Orban said during a radio interview, adding that "taking a stand" could quickly amount to "becoming an actual belligerent."

UN senior official welcomes extension of Black Sea grain export deal

 A senior UN official welcomed the extension by four months of a Türkiye-brokered deal aimed at easing global food shortages by helping Ukraine export its agricultural products from Black Sea ports, but said there was still work to be done.

"We are really very pleased on the extension of the Black Sea grains initiative. It is very good news for the world, for the food insecurity crisis that we are going through," Rebeca Grynspan told reporters in Geneva.

"But we have said very clearly that we are still not where we want to be, there is still work to be done and especially on fertilisers," she added.

Russia says hopes for prisoner swap with US

Russia said it hoped the United States will return notorious Russian arms trafficker Viktor Bout in a prisoner swap, after American basketball star Brittney Griner was transferred to a penal colony.

"I would like to hope that the prospect (of an exchange) is not only still a topical issue, but that it is being strengthened, and the moment comes when we get a concrete agreement," Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told reporters in Moscow, according to the state-run news agency RIA Novosti.

Another American jailed in Russia, a retired US Marine arrested in December 2018 and accused of spying, Paul Whelan is also slated for a possible exchange, observers say.

Ukraine war is Asia's problem too: Macron

French President Emmanuel Macron urged Asian countries to join the "increasing consensus" against the conflict in Ukraine, telling them the war was "your problem" too.

Macron told business leaders on the sidelines of a Pacific Rim summit that France was trying to "create an increasing consensus in order to say this war is also your problem, because it will create a lot of destabilisation".

Ukraine blames Russia for 'lying' over downing of flight MH17

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy accused Russia of lying about the 2014 downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 above eastern Ukraine.

"A very important decision was adopted today in the Netherlands. Russia lied a lot about this catastrophe, but nevertheless, the key facts were established," Zelenskyy said on Telegram following a Dutch court’s ruling in the case.

Australia's foreign minister urged Russia to surrender three men found guilty of shooting down Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 and called out President Vladimir Putin for "harbouring murderers."

Russia urged to end fighting at Ukrainian plants

The UN nuclear watchdog's board of governors has passed a resolution expressing "grave concern" that Russia had not heeded calls to cease actions against nuclear facilities in war-torn Ukraine.

The UN's International Atomic Energy Agency's 35-nation board of governors urged Moscow "to abandon its baseless claims of ownership of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant".

The IAEA statement also called on Moscow to "immediately withdraw its military and other personnel from the plant, and to cease all actions against, and at, the plant and any other nuclear facility in Ukraine".

The resolution, brought by Canada and Finland, was approved by 24 of the agency's 35 board members, two diplomats told the AFP news agency. Russia and China voted against it.

For live updates from Thursday (November 17), click here

Source: TRTWorld and agencies