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Zelensky Hosts Erdogan and Guterres in Lviv

A grain deal brokered by the U.N. and Turkish leader is already working, but trade volumes remain modest at best.

By , the newsletter writer at Foreign Policy.
The U.N.-chartered vessel MV Brave Commander is loaded with grain to export to Ethiopia, in Yuzhne, east of Odesa on the Black Sea coast, on Aug. 14, 2022.
The U.N.-chartered vessel MV Brave Commander is loaded with grain to export to Ethiopia, in Yuzhne, east of Odesa on the Black Sea coast, on Aug. 14, 2022.
The U.N.-chartered vessel MV Brave Commander is loaded with grain to export to Ethiopia, in Yuzhne, east of Odesa on the Black Sea coast, on Aug. 14, 2022. OLEKSANDR GIMANOV/AFP via Getty Images

Welcome to today’s Morning Brief, where we’re following the progress of Ukraine’s grain deal, Turkish airstrikes in Syria, and deepening U.S.-Taiwan trade ties.

If you would like to receive Morning Brief in your inbox every weekday, please sign up here.


Zelensky Meets Erdogan, Guterres

Welcome to today’s Morning Brief, where we’re following the progress of Ukraine’s grain deal, Turkish airstrikes in Syria, and deepening U.S.-Taiwan trade ties.

If you would like to receive Morning Brief in your inbox every weekday, please sign up here.


Zelensky Meets Erdogan, Guterres

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan are in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv today to hold a three-way meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

The meeting comes under the auspices of a breakthrough deal overseen by Guterres and Erdogan that has allowed Ukraine to export its agricultural produce via the Black Sea.

As well as advancing the multilateral deal, it’s a chance for Erdogan and Zelensky to meet face to face for the first time since Russia’s invasion.

Erdogan has met with Putin multiple times since then but has still managed to project a balanced air between the warring sides: On one side of the scale, the Turkish leader has helped Kyiv’s resistance by supplying armed drones, and on the other he keeps Putin’s war going by purchasing Russian gas.

As well as discussing Ukraine’s exports, the three leaders are expected to discuss the war itself, specifically the standoff over the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant. The facility has come under fire in recent weeks (with each side blaming the other for shelling), sparking fears of an impending nuclear disaster—something that could be averted if all interested parties, including the United States, took international law on civilian infrastructure more seriously, Victor Gilinsky and Henry Sokolski argued this week in FP.

The grain deal so far. Exports from Ukraine’s Black Sea ports have resumed slowly: Just 24 ships carrying food have left those ports since the deal was struck. A five-ship convoy, the largest yet, arrived in Chornomorsk on Wednesday. It’s a sign that Ukraine is edging out of a trial period as it aims for its goal of 3 million metric tons of exports per month. Overall this month, Ukraine has exported 948,000 metric tons of grain, roughly half as much as it had exported by this time in August of last year.

The battle comes to Crimea. Although there has been no official acknowledgment of it by Ukraine’s government, tactics have appeared to shift in recent days to include a more aggressive approach to Russian-annexed Crimea. Ukraine’s apparent attacks on Russian military facilities on the peninsula included an Aug. 9 explosion at Saki air base that killed at least one person and destroyed at least seven military aircraft, as well as explosions at an ammunition depot in Maiske and at an airfield in Gvardeyskoye, both on Aug. 16.

The moves have both psychological and tactical value, according to a CNN report that cites internal Ukrainian government documents, with each strike proving Ukraine’s ability to attack at will far from the front lines. Russian officials have played down reports that civilians have begun fleeing Crimea for safer Russian territory.


Keep an Eye On

Syria skirmishes. At least three Syrian soldiers were killed and six more were wounded following Turkish airstrikes on targets near Aleppo on Wednesday, according to Syrian state media. The U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights revised the death toll to 17, although it could not confirm whether those killed were soldiers or civilians. The attacks come one day after a Turkish soldier was killed by a mortar in Turkish-held territory west of Kobane.

Blast in Kabul. A suicide bomber killed at least 10 people and injured dozens more in an attack on a Kabul mosque on Wednesday. Mullah Amir Mohammad Kabuli, a prominent cleric, is reportedly among the dead. Although no group has taken responsibility, the attack matches one by the Islamic State last week in which another Taliban cleric was killed.

U.S.-Taiwan trade. The United States and Taiwan are to begin negotiations on a bilateral trade initiative, the Office of the United States Trade Representative announced on Wednesday. The talks are set to begin this fall. The move is likely to anger China, which sees U.S. bilateral engagement with Taiwan as a dismissal of its claims of sovereignty over the island.


Wednesday’s Most Read

How Nancy Pelosi’s Taiwan Gambit Backfired by Craig Singleton
What Does China Want? by Hal Brands and Michael Beckley
Italy Is Leading the World in Seizing Oligarchs’ Assets by Elisabeth Braw


Odds and Ends 

The Japanese government is trying to encourage its young people to drink more alcohol as moves toward a healthier lifestyle have led to a steep decline in the tax take from alcohol sales. Beer consumption has been especially curtailed, with sales down 20 percent and per capita drinking down almost 10 percent.

The National Tax Agency has launched the Sake Viva! campaign to come up with ways to promote alcoholic drink consumption among 20- to 39-year-olds.

Tax officials in part blame the coronavirus pandemic for freeing workers from office rituals. “As working from home made strides to a certain extent during the COVID-19 crisis, many people may have come to question whether they need to continue the habit of drinking with colleagues to deepen communication,” one official told the Japan Times.

As the Guardian reports, the health ministry has asked that campaign promotions include a reminder to drink only the “appropriate amount” of alcohol (which a recent Lancet study suggests should be none for those under 40).

Colm Quinn is the newsletter writer at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @colmfquinn

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