Erdogan visits Ukraine hoping to play mediator with Russia - GulfToday

Erdogan visits Ukraine hoping to play mediator with Russia


Volodymyr Zelenskiy (left) and Tayyip Erdogan walk during a welcoming ceremony in Kiev, Ukraine. File/Reuters

Gulf Today Report

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan visits Kyiv on Thursday (today) in a bid to set the stage for a three-way summit with Russia's Vladimir Putin aimed at avoiding war in Ukraine.

Erdogan is set to visit after pitching Turkey as a mediator to ease tensions with Russia, and an official said he was not picking any sides in the crisis.

The veteran Turkish leader's talks with his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky come with Kyiv hesitant to accept US warnings that President Putin is preparing to invade.


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Erdogan has also tried to talk down the prospects of war while pursuing his own diplomatic track separate from those followed by European leaders.

"We want peace to prevail in our region, and for this we are ready to do anything," Erdogan said last month.

The Turkish official told the media that Ankara expects tensions to ease after the meeting in Kyiv. On Wednesday, Ankara and Kyiv said they would sign a free trade agreement and other deals.

Tayyip Erdogan (left) and Volodymyr Zelenskiy pose with documents at the Mariyinsky Palace in Kiev. File/Reuters

But his attempts to host a peace summit between Putin and Zelensky have been stymied by Kremlin anger over Turkey's supply of combat drones to Kyiv that played a crucial role in the 2020 conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh.

Putin warned Erdogan in December that Kyiv was trying to disrupt a peace agreement for its two eastern separatist provinces with "provocative" military actions that included the use of Turkish drones.

Russia has denied any plans of invading Ukraine amid concern by many Western nations over its build up of more than 100,000 troops near the border, but has demanded sweeping security guarantees from the West.

Erdogan's trip comes after visits by leaders of NATO members Britain, Poland, and the Netherlands to Kyiv amid the standoff. Turkey has good ties with Kyiv and Moscow but has said it would do what is necessary as a NATO member if Russia invades.

Ankara offered in November to help ease building tensions, and last month Turkish diplomatic sources said both Russia and Ukraine were open to the idea.


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