Erdogan says Turkey ready in principle to act as Ukraine’s guarantor, Abramovich was part of Russian delegation at Istanbul

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ANKARA, March 31 (Reuters) – Turkey is ready, in principle, to act as a guarantor country for Ukraine, but the details of such a format need to be worked out, President Tayyip Erdogan was cited as saying on Thursday, adding Moscow’s decision to scale back some of its operations near Kyiv and Chernihiv was “truly important”.

NATO member Turkey shares a maritime border with Ukraine and Russia in the Black Sea, has good ties with both and has offered to mediate the conflict. It has supported Ukraine while opposing sanctions on Moscow, and this week hosted negotiators from both sides for the first face-to-face peace talks in weeks.

Speaking on a flight from Uzbekistan, Erdogan said the talks in Istanbul, where Ukraine gave Russia a written proposal to end the war, had provided “significant momentum” to the process. He added he would again convey an offer to host Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and Russia’s Vladimir Putin for talks.

“On the guarantorship matter, we can be one of the guarantor countries ensuring Ukraine’s security, we are ready for this in principle, but of course the details of this need to be worked out,” broadcaster NTV cited him as saying, referring to an offer from Ukraine for several countries, including Turkey, to act as security guarantors.

Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich, who is sanctioned by European nations over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, was part of Russia’s delegation at peace negotiations in Istanbul this week, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan was cited as saying on Thursday.

Abramovich made a surprise appearance at Tuesday’s talks in Istanbul, the first in-person meeting between the sides in more than two weeks. However a presidential feed at the time showed him sat among observers rather than at the main table with the two negotiating teams. 

“Abramovich participated in the negotiations as part of the Russian delegation. Rather than looking at who was at the table, we should look at on whose behalf they were there,” Erdogan said.

“If Russia and (Russian President Vladimir) Putin preferred to put Abramovich in their delegation, that means they believe and trust in him,” broadcaster NTV quoted him as telling reporters on a flight returning from Uzbekistan.

Turkey is working to bring together the Ukrainian and Russian foreign ministers for talks after hosting peace negotiations in Istanbul this week, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Thursday, adding the meeting could happen within two weeks.

Negotiators from Ukraine and Russia held the first face-to-face talks in more than two weeks in Istanbul this week, during which Ukraine presented written proposals to stop the Russian invasion.

Speaking to broadcaster A Haber, Cavusoglu said Turkey had not seen the full implementation of the decisions from the talks in Istanbul, including the withdrawal of Russian forces from some areas, but added significant progress was still made.

Photo – Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan gives a press conference at the end of a Group of Seven (G7) Leaders meeting at the Alliance headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, 24 March 2022. EPA-EFE/STEPHANIE LECOCQ

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