Turkey calls for ceasefire between Russia and Ukraine ahead of Erdogan-Putin meeting

Turkey calls for ceasefire between Russia and Ukraine ahead of Erdogan-Putin meeting


Turkey on Tuesday called for a ceasefire in Ukraine, just days before a likely meeting between Turkey and Russia leaders in the Kazakh capital Astana.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has received praise for finalizing a grain deal as well as prisoner swaps between Russia and Ukraine, has long tried to bring Kyiv and Moscow together on ceasefire talks that neither side particularly wants.

NATO member Turkey, which has remained neutral during the Ukraine conflict, has good relations with its two Black Sea neighbors, Vladimir Putin’s Russia and Ukraine.

“Unfortunately, since talks between Russian and Ukrainian negotiators in Istanbul in March (both sides) have quickly moved away from diplomacy,” Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said in a television interview.

“Unfortunately, as the Ukrainian-Russian war drags on, the situation is getting worse and more complicated,” added the Turkish diplomat, who called for an immediate ceasefire.

“A ceasefire must be established as soon as possible. The sooner the better,” he said.

-‘Viable Truce’-

Erdogan, who has a good working relationship with Putin despite disagreements on several issues including Syria, is likely to meet with the Russian leader in Astana on Thursday, a Turkish official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

Turkey has refrained from joining Western sanctions against Russia.

Erdogan, who met with Putin on the sidelines of a regional summit in Uzbekistan last month, is keen to boost trade with Moscow while trying to stabilize Turkey’s struggling economy ahead of next June’s elections.

Bowing to pressure from the United States, Ankara has confirmed that Turkey’s last three banks still processing Russian bank card payments are pulling the plug.

The decision followed weeks of increasingly blunt warnings from Washington to Turkey to either limit economic ties with Russia or face the threat of sanctions itself.

Erdogan has yet to comment on Russian mass attacks in Ukraine on Monday, which have killed at least 19 and injured more than 100 by Ukrainian emergency services.

Cavusoglu had a phone conversation with Ukraine’s counterpart Dmytro Kuleba after the attacks, a Turkish diplomatic source said, without elaborating.

During Tuesday’s interview, Cavusoglu called for a “just peace” based on Ukraine’s territorial integrity.

“There must be a just peace for Ukraine. Where is the war taking place? It takes place on Ukrainian soil,” he said.

“A process that will ensure Ukraine’s borders and territorial integrity should begin. Without a truce, it is not possible to speak in a healthy way about these issues: a viable truce and a just peace.”

Turkey has dismissed Russia’s annexation of four Ukrainian provinces as a “grave violation” of international law and called for negotiations to end the conflict.

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