Erdogan and Zelensky in crunch talks today as Putin threatens nuclear disaster in Ukraine

It is the first trip by the Turkish leader to Ukraine since Russia invaded the country in February. Mr Erdogan’s reluctance to join EU and NATO nations in the issuing of sanctions against Moscow has raised concerns over his support to Vladimir Putin’s attack on Kyiv.

The three leaders will discuss ways to find a political solution to the war and address the threat to global food supplies and risk of a disaster at Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, which has been taken over by Russian forces.

On Monday, Mr Zelensky urged the world to show “strength and decisiveness” to defend the nuclear power station following shelling in the vicinity of the plant which Kyiv and Moscow blame on each other.

After a phone call with French President Emmanuel Macron, the Ukrainian President wrote: “Continued dialogue with French President Emmanuel Macron.

“Informed about the situation at the front, Russia’s nuclear terrorism at the ZNPP (Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant).

“Thanked (him) for France’s tangible defence aid. Discussed macro-financial aid to Ukraine & food security challenges.

“We must increase sanctions on Russia.”

The two sides have exchanged accusations of shelling near the plant but the Russian ministry said its forces had no heavy weapons there or in nearby districts.

The war has forced millions to flee, killed thousands and deepened a geopolitical rift between the West and Russia, which says the aim of its operation is to demilitarise its neighbour and protect Russian-speaking communities.

“Russian forces have achieved only minimal advances, and in some cases, we have advanced, since last month,” Ukrainian presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovych said in a video.

“What we are seeing is a ‘strategic deadlock’.”

Russian bombardment of a residential area of Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-biggest city, on Wednesday evening killed seven people and wounded 16, the Ukrainian Emergencies Service said.

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“This is a devious and cynical strike on civilians with no justification,” Zelensky said on the Telegram messaging app.

One person was killed and 18 were wounded on Thursday in pre-dawn shelling of another residential area of Kharkiv, Oleh Synehubov, the regional governor said.

The south district of the Operational Command of the Ukrainian armed forces said Ukrainian forces killed 29 “occupiers” near the town of Bilohirka, northeast of Kherson, as well as destroying artillery, armoured vehicles and a military supply depot.