Daily Sabah (Turkey)

‘Turkish efforts for Russian, Ukrainian leader talks continue’


TURKEY and its president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, continue efforts to bring together the leaders of Russia and Ukraine for talks amid rising tension along their borders, Presidenti­al Spokespers­on İbrahim Kalın said Saturday.

“Our president’s offer to bring the leaders of Russia and Ukraine together is actually the most important and concrete proposal to overcome this crisis,” Kalın told reporters at a book fair in Istanbul.

Erdoğan also discussed this issue with his Ukrainian counterpar­t Volodymyr Zelenskyy during a recent visit to the capital Kyiv as well as in his phone calls with Russian President Vladimir Putin, and they are expected to hold another call soon, Kalın said.

Adding that Turkey’s preparatio­ns for Putin’s expected visit to the country are ongoing, Kalın said: “We’re in contact with our Russian counterpar­ts on this.”

Putin has accepted Erdoğan’s invitation to visit Turkey amid the tensions and will make the trip once the pandemic and schedules allow, the Kremlin said.

Erdoğan also recently visited Kyiv and held talks with Zelenskyy. The Turkish president reiterated that Turkey stands by its decision not to recognize the annexation of Crimea and declared Ankara’s support for Ukraine’s Crimean Platform initiative.

According to Kalın, to solve the Ukraine crisis, “dialogue and diplomacy should be prioritize­d, tensions should be reduced, and mutual steps should be taken to reduce tensions.”

Turkey will continue to do its duty on this issue, he said, as well as suggesting that this tension should be “resolved through negotiatio­n, dialogue and cooperatio­n.”

“A crisis in the Ukraine region affects everyone negatively,” Kalın warned.

“Our expectatio­n, effort and hope are that no conflict, military interventi­on or occupation will occur,” he said.

Turkey has repeatedly shown its willingnes­s to mediate between Ukraine and Russia to resolve the conflict via diplomatic means, with Erdoğan saying a trilateral meeting could be held in Istanbul with the participat­ion of the leaders of both countries.

Most recently, Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said Friday that Turkey continues to do its best to de-escalate tensions between Russia and Ukraine, underlinin­g that the continuati­on of dialogue and diplomacy is a common will.

Turkey shares the Black Sea with Ukraine and Russia. While forging cooperatio­n on defense and energy, Turkey has opposed Moscow’s policies in Syria and Libya, as well as its annexation of the Crimean Peninsula in 2014. It has also sold sophistica­ted drones to Ukraine, thus angering Russia.

Kalın’s remarks came a day after U.S. President Joe Biden accused Moscow of planning “false flag” operations, warning that Russia could very likely invade Ukraine within “several days.”

Tensions rose dramatical­ly in eastern Ukraine last week, with a growing number of cease-fire violations, multiple shelling incidents and evacuation of civilians from the pro-Russian separatist regions of Donetsk and Luhansk.

Western countries have accused Russia of amassing more than 100,000 troops near Ukraine, prompting fears that it could be planning a military offensive against its exS-oviet neighbor.

Moscow has repeatedly denied any plan to invade Ukraine and instead accused Western countries of underminin­g Russia’s security through NATO’s expansion toward its borders.

 ?? ?? A Ukrainian soldier stands in a shelter on a position at the line of separation near Zolote, Ukraine, Feb. 19, 2022.
A Ukrainian soldier stands in a shelter on a position at the line of separation near Zolote, Ukraine, Feb. 19, 2022.

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