Russia would be unwise to attack Ukraine and in that case Turkey would do what is necessary as a NATO member, President Tayyip Erdogan said.
In an interview with broadcaster NTV Erdogan said he had invited Russian President Vladimir Putin to Turkey under a proposal to host both sides for diplomacy and a path to peace, adding that he expects a response from Moscow.
Erdogan also said there was a need for comprehensive dialogue that addresses some of Russia’s security concerns and that also explains to Moscow that some of its demands are not plausible.
“I hope that Russia will not make an armed attack or occupy Ukraine. Such a step will not be a wise act for Russia or the region,” he said. “There is a need for dialogue that will listen to Russia and eliminate their reasonable security concerns.”
Ankara has good ties with both Kyiv and Moscow, but opposes Russian policies in Syria and Libya, as well as its annexation of the Crimean peninsula in 2014. While forging cooperation with Russia on defence and energy, Ankara has also sold sophisticated drones to Ukraine, angering Moscow.
“I repeat that we are ready to do whatever is necessary and I conveyed these messages to President Putin and President (Volodymyr) Zelenskiy,” Erdogan said. “I think both countries are aware of the sincerety and good intent of Turkey,”
The crisis should be solved “avoiding the use of force,” he added. “We hope the NATO initiative will be successful on this.”
Turkey first floated the mediation offer in November. Last week diplomatic sources said both Russia and Ukraine were open to Turkey playing a role in resolving the crisis.
Erdogan has said he would visit Zelenskiy in Ukraine in early February to discuss the crisis and would also meet or call Putin soon.
FILE PHOTO Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) shakes hands with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (L) during their joint news conference following Russian-Turkish talks in the Black sea resort of Sochi, Russia, 22 October 2019. EPA-EFE/SERGEI CHIRIKOV/POOL