Ukraine, aware of Turkey-Russia ties, maintains cooperation with Ankara: diplomat

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Ukraine is working as much as possible with NATO member Turkey for more support for Russia’s invasion of the country and understands – even if not satisfied – the reality of Ankara’s parallel ties with Moscow, said a Ukrainian diplomat.

Turkey is one of the most active countries in ensuring a permanent ceasefire between Ukraine and Russia. His delicately balanced act of assuming a mediating role by keeping the channels of communication open with the two warring parties offers a beacon of hope in diplomatic efforts to find a solution and achieve peace in the Ukraine crisis. With its unique position of maintaining friendly relations with Russia and Ukraine, Turkey has received widespread praise for its efforts to end the war.

Since the start of the conflict, Ankara has offered to mediate between the two sides and host peace talks, stressing its support for Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty. While Ankara has opposed international sanctions aimed at isolating Moscow, it has also closed its straits to prevent some Russian ships from crossing them.

“We would be happy if Turkey joined the sanctions” and suspended flights from Russia. “But we understand this reality,” the diplomat told foreign reporters on condition of anonymity.

“Instead of criticizing Turkey, we are working as much as possible with the Turkish side and we are not demanding something improbable,” the diplomat added, noting that it was still the only country that had managed to bring together Russian and Ukrainian peacemakers. talks.

The diplomat cited data showing that more than 100,000 Russians had arrived in Turkey and applied for residence documents since the start of the war. However, during the same period, some 85,000 Ukrainians also arrived, of whom around 47,000 have since left for other countries or returned home, the person said.

Turkey has also banned some Russian warships from transiting through its strait to the Black Sea, thus “saving” the Ukrainian coastal city of Odessa, which resisted Russian attacks, the diplomat said.

The diplomat said some Russian ships are still in transit and could bring supplies from Syrian waters. “We ask the Turkish side to monitor what it brings from Syria to Russia.”

Turkey opposes Russia’s policies in Syria and Libya and its 2014 annexation of Crimea, but bought Russia’s S-400 missile defense system, for which Ankara was hit with US sanctions in December 2020 .

In a breakthrough, Russian and Ukrainian delegations met for peace talks in Istanbul on March 29 as the war entered its second month, with casualties mounting on both sides.

As part of its mediation efforts, Turkey also hosted the foreign ministers of Russia and Ukraine in Antalya last month. Foreign Ministers Sergei Lavrov of Russia and Dmytro Kuleba of Ukraine met in the Turkish resort town of Antalya for talks, which Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu also attended.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan reiterated his offer to host Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Russian President Vladimir Putin for talks aimed at securing peace between the two countries. Erdoğan expressed hope that a possible summit between the two leaders in Istanbul could end the war.

Evacuation of Mariupol

On the other hand, Turkey has also stepped up its role as a player in helping to evacuate civilians from the port city of Mariupol in southern Ukraine, a region suffering from one of the worst humanitarian crises since the invasion of Russia.

Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu recently noted that there are still nearly 30 Turkish citizens waiting to be evacuated. The citizens took refuge in a mosque in Mariupol, officials said.

“As Turkey, we are working towards a solution,” Çavuşoğlu said, in a statement regarding the evacuation of civilians from Ukraine.

On Sunday, Sputnik quoted Igor Yevgenyevich Konashenkov, spokesman for the Russian Defense Ministry, as saying that a special operation was carried out on Saturday to rescue people trapped in a Turkish mosque in the Primorskiy region of Mariupol. No statement has come from the Turkish Foreign Ministry on the matter.

Just a day earlier, Defense Minister Hulusi Akar had spoken to his Ukrainian counterpart Oleksii Reznikov in a phone call and stressed the need for an immediate ceasefire as well as the urgency of evacuate Turkish citizens and civilians from land and sea routes.

He also added that Turkey will continue its efforts to send humanitarian aid to Ukraine.

Amid heavy traffic from Turkey over evacuation processes, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk says Ukraine and Russia failed to agree on humanitarian convoys for the evacuation on Sunday civilians from war-affected areas.

“We could not agree (…) on ceasefires on evacuation routes. That is why, unfortunately, we are not opening humanitarian corridors today” , she said on her Telegram account.

Vereshchuk also said Ukrainian authorities have requested humanitarian corridors to evacuate wounded Ukrainian civilians and soldiers from the besieged port of Mariupol.

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