Turkish FM holds talks with Ukrainian, Russian counterparts over phone
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu on Feb. 16 held separate phone talks with his Russian and Ukrainian counterparts amid escalating tension in the region.
Speaking to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Çavuşoğlu underlined the significance of diplomatic efforts to resolve the Ukrainian crisis through peaceful means, diplomatic sources said on condition of anonymity. Çavuşoğlu reiterated Ankara’s readiness to host meetings between Russia and Ukraine.
Lavrov, for his part, confirmed his participation in the Antalya Diplomacy Forum, which will be held on March 11-13, adding that he will attend the foreign ministers’ meeting on Syria in the Astana format.
Çavuşoğlu also discussed the tension in eastern Ukraine with his Ukrainian counterpart, Dmytro Kuleba.
Both Russian and Ukrainian ministers wished quick recovery to Çavuşoğlu, who tested positive for COVID-19.
Within the scope of mediation efforts, Ankara has invited Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy for a face-to-face meeting in Turkey.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Feb. 15 stated that Zelenskyy was open to a three-way summit . The president said he would hold a phone conversation with the Russian leader on the issue. “If Mr. Putin also looks on this positively, we can, God willing, come together in Istanbul or Ankara,” he stated.
Turkey also attempts to hold the next meeting of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk group between Ukraine and Russia in Istanbul.
The fears for a potential Russian invasion stem from the fact that Russia has massed more than 130,000 Russian troops on Ukraine’s borders to the north, south and east. It has also launched massive military drills in Belarus, an ally that also borders Ukraine.
At the heart of the crisis are Russia’s demands that the West keep Ukraine and other former Soviet nations out of NATO, halt weapons deployments near Russian borders and roll back forces from Eastern Europe. The United States and its allies have roundly rejected those demands, but they offered to engage in talks with Russia on ways to bolster security in Europe.