SAWT BEIRUT INTERNATIONAL

| 17 January 2022, Monday |

Erdogan says Turkey ready to mediate between Ukraine and Russia

Despite angering Moscow earlier this year by supplying military drones to Kyiv amid tensions in eastern Ukraine, President Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday that Turkey is willing to act as a mediator between Ukraine and Russia.

According to US, NATO, and Ukrainian authorities, Russian soldiers have massed near Ukraine’s border, where the country is also fighting Moscow-backed rebels who control a portion of its territory in the east.

According to Ukraine’s military intelligence, Moscow is planning an invasion in early 2022. Russia has labeled the remarks as “malicious” US propaganda.

NATO member Turkey has good ties with both Kyiv and Moscow, but opposes Russian policies in Syria and Libya. It has forged close energy and defense cooperation with Russia, but has also sold Turkish-made drones to Kyiv, angering Moscow.

Speaking to reporters on a flight from Turkmenistan, Erdogan was cited as saying by NTV and other media Turkey wanted the Black Sea region to be in peace, adding he was discussing the issue with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin frequently.

“Whether it is as a mediator or speaking to them about the issue, by holding these talks with Ukraine and Mr Putin, God willing, we want to have a part in the solution of this,” he was cited as saying.

Dmitry Peskov, a Kremlin spokesman, declined to comment on Erdogan’s offer.

Last month, Moscow warned that Turkish drones might destabilize east Ukraine after Kiev used one to attack a location controlled by Russian-backed rebels. Turkey has stated that it cannot be held responsible for Ukraine’s use of drones.

Since 2014, when Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine, Russia-backed rebels have been battling government soldiers in Ukraine’s Donbass area.

Turkey has also condemned Moscow’s takeover of Crimea and backed Ukraine’s territorial integrity.