Turkey on Saturday reaffirmed its willingness to mediate the de-escalation of tensions between Moscow and Kyiv amid concerns over Russia's military buildup near the border with Ukraine, APA reports citing Daily Sabah.
"We are ready to play our role to de-escalate tension between the two countries, with whom we maintain good relations," Turkish Presidential Spokesperson Ibrahim Kalın told Anadolu Agency (AA).
Reiterating that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan made the offer to his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, he underlined that any further escalation would harm all parties involved.
Turkey could mediate between Ukraine and Russia amid increasing tensions in the region, Erdoğan said last week.
“It is our hope that this region does not become a region dominated by war,” Erdoğan noted. “Let this region walk into the future as a region dominated by peace.”
“It is our desire that the attitude in this matter develops in a positive direction. There could be a mediation about this; we will discuss this issue with them, we would like to have a share in the solution of this by developing these talks both with Ukraine and with Mr. Putin,” he added on his return from Turkmenistan.
Erdoğan discussed Turkey-Russia relations with Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on the phone Friday.
The two leaders talked about enhancing bilateral ties, a statement by the Presidential Communications Directorate said.
They also touched upon recent regional developments in Azerbaijan and Armenia, Syria, Libya and Ukraine.
Turkey has been in contact with both Russia and Ukraine, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu also said Wednesday, noting that Ankara advised both sides to remain calm and de-escalate the situation.
If Turkey and President Erdoğan can use their influence to encourage Ukraine to implement the 2014 Minsk Protocol, Russia would welcome it, the Kremlin said Wednesday.
The Minsk agreements were signed to stop the ongoing conflict between the pro-Russian separatists and the Kyiv administration.
The agreements included a cease-fire in the region and a prisoner exchange while allowing the Kyiv administration to make a constitutional amendment that would give Donbass special status.
The pro-Russian separatists were supposed to withdraw their weapons from the Ukrainian-Russian border.
However, the agreements' implementation has been hampered as the two sides accuse each other of violating the cease-fire.
In its initial response, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov dismissed Ankara's offer while speaking to journalists in Moscow, saying: “The fact is that Russia is not a party to the conflict in Donbass, it will be impossible to find solutions to the problem at such a summit.”
On the other hand, Ukraine welcomed the president’s statements.
"We will welcome any efforts that can help us to put an end to this war, to return Ukraine's territories that are currently under Russian control," Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba told a news briefing.
Russian forces annexed the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine in February 2014. Putin formally divided the region into two separate federal subjects of the Russian Federation the following month.
Turkey, a NATO member, has criticized Moscow's annexation of Crimea and voiced support for Ukraine's territorial integrity. The United States and United Nations General Assembly also view the annexation as illegal.
Fighting between Ukrainian government forces and pro-Russian separatists in Donbass has killed more than 13,000 people since 2014, according to the U.N. The region is one of the several sources of friction between Russia and Ukraine.
Ukraine, which wants to join the NATO military alliance, has blamed Moscow for supporting separatists in the conflict in its east since 2014. Ukraine's military intelligence said last week that Russia had amassed more than 92,000 troops around Ukraine's borders and was preparing for an attack by the end of January or the beginning of February.
Russia has said it suspects Ukraine of wanting to recapture separatist-controlled territory by force. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on Friday that Kyiv had no such plans and Russia's rhetoric opposing Ukraine's bid to join NATO was worrying.
NATO member Turkey has good ties with both Kyiv and Moscow, though it opposes Russian policies in Syria and Libya. It has forged energy and defense cooperation with Russia while opposing Russia's 2014 annexation of Ukraine's Crimea Peninsula.