Erdoğan cuts short Africa visit amid Ukraine crisis

Erdoğan cuts short Africa visit amid Ukraine crisis

Erdoğan cuts short Africa visit amid Ukraine crisis

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Feb. 22 cut short his trip to Africa, his office said, as the Turkish leader stepped up diplomacy over the crisis between Russia and Ukraine.

Russian President Vladimir Putin defied Western warnings and approved sending troops into eastern Ukraine on Monday to support two rebel regions’ independence claims.

Erdoğan, who started a tour of Africa on Sunday, visiting DR Congo and Senegal, will postpone his journey to Guinea, said the presidency’s office, and he returned to Turkey on Feb. 23. 

The Turkish leader, who has friendly ties to both Moscow and Kyiv, said Russia’s recognition of Ukraine’s breakaway regions was "unacceptable" and urged compliance with international law, in comments published Tuesday.

Erdoğan has positioned Turkey as a neutral mediator for a peaceful resolution to the crisis, offering to host the two countries’ leaders or technical level talks in Istanbul or in Ankara.

While in Senegal, Erdoğan told Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in a phone call that "Putin’s recognition of so-called republics" was unacceptable.

Turkey "is against any kind of decision aimed at Ukraine’s territorial integrity", he said. Diplomatic means should be used to find a resolution at the international level, he added.