| 29 February 2024, Thursday |

Turkey’s Erdogan to speak to Russia’s Putin on Sunday -spokesman

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan will speak by phone with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Sunday to discuss Russia’s conflict in Ukraine, according to spokesman Ibrahim Kalin, who added that Turkey was ready to assist in resolving the problem.

Turkey, a NATO member, has a maritime border with Ukraine and Russia in the Black Sea and has strong relations with both, although it opposes sanctions against Moscow. Ankara has condemned the incursion and offered to host peace talks in exchange for a cease-fire.

Speaking to reporters in Istanbul on Saturday, Kalin said Erdogan would reiterate that offer to Putin and ask him to “give a chance” to a humanitarian ceasefire and set up humanitarian corridors needed for civilian evacuations and aid shipments.

“Our president’s message is for the war and the attacks to be stopped immediately, for talks to start by coming together at an appropriate basis and give diplomacy a chance,” Kalin said.

It was important that Russia had a reliable counterpart to speak to as the West “burned bridges” with it, Kalin said, adding that Ankara would not abandon ties with either Russia or Ukraine.

Kalin also said attacks on or near nuclear power plants in Ukraine were “playing with fire” and that Erdogan would also hold talks with other leaders on Saturday, including Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and European Union officials.

Turkey welcomes statements from Russia about holding talks over humanitarian corridors and the continuation of discussions with Ukraine, he added.

Turkey has forged close cooperation with Russia in defence, energy and trade, and relies heavily on Russian tourists. But, it has also sold drones to Kyiv, angering Moscow, and opposes Russian policies in Syria, Libya, and its annexation of Crimea in 2014.

Ankara has said it wants to bring together foreign ministers from Ukraine and Russia for talks at a diplomacy forum next week in southern Turkey. Ukraine has said it is open to such talks, while Russia welcomed Ankara’s offer.

  • Reuters