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'Positive’ signs but no breakthrough after talks with Sweden and Finland, says Turkish official

Yulia Yuliantseva and her son Matviy lived for weeks in the Studentska Metro station in Kharkiv as Russian forces shelled the city. On May 23, they went home. (Video: Fredrick Kunkle, Jason Aldag/The Washington Post)
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ISTANBUL — After talks on Wednesday regarding Turkey’s continued objections to Sweden and Finland’s NATO bids, a senior Turkish official said the meeting yielded “positive” signs but no immediate breakthrough.

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Ibrahim Kalin, an adviser to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, said that Turkey was in no rush to resolve concerns unless its demands are met and that there was “no time pressure” to include NATO’s secretary general in discussions until a meeting of the alliance scheduled for late next month.

Meanwhile, Russia is attempting to capture Ukraine’s eastern Luhansk region at all costs, with the strategic city of Severodonetsk “under enemy fire around-the-clock,” Sergei Haidai, the regional governor, said Wednesday. Civilians are sheltering in bomb shelters inside the Azot chemical plant, which has been hit by deadly strikes in recent days, Haidai added. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has described the situation in the Donbas region — of which Luhansk is a part — as “extremely difficult,” accusing Russia of wanting “to destroy everything there.”

The British Defense Ministry said Wednesday that Russia’s blockade of the Black Sea has left “significant supplies of Ukrainian grain” stranded and “unable to be exported,” as fears grow that the war could spark a global food crisis.

Here’s what else to know

  • After European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen accused Russia of using food “as a form of blackmail,” a Russian official suggested Moscow could allow ships carrying Ukrainian grain to leave if the West were to lift sanctions.
  • U.S. financial institutions will no longer be permitted to accept bond payments from Russia, after the Treasury said it would let a sanctions waiver expire Wednesday.
  • The British government approved the sale of Chelsea Football Club after sanctions were placed on the London-based club’s longtime owner, Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich.
  • The Washington Post has lifted its paywall for readers in Russia and Ukraine. Telegram users can subscribe to our channel.