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13 Mar, 2022 14:43

Turkey reveals Putin’s stance on meeting Zelensky

Ankara is doing its best to stage face-to-face talks between the Russian and Ukrainian leaders, the country’s FM said
Turkey reveals Putin’s stance on meeting Zelensky

Russian President Vladimir Putin is open to the idea of holding talks with his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has said.

“We’re putting every effort into staging the meeting between the leaders” of Russia and Ukraine, Cavusoglu said during a press conference on Sunday.

“In principle, Putin said during a phone call with our president that he wouldn’t mind such a meeting,” the minister said, adding that “the Ukrainian side is ready too.”

Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan talked on the phone a week ago, discussing the ongoing Russian ‘military operation’ in Ukraine. Back then, Putin told his counterpart that Moscow will only halt its offensive if the Ukrainian troops cease fighting and Kiev fulfills all of the Kremlin’s demands.

Russia said it aims to “demilitarize” and “denazify” the neighboring country, and to hold accountable those responsible for what Moscow has called the “genocide” of civilians in the breakaway republics of Donetsk and Lugansk.

The Kremlin’s other terms include a neutral status for Ukraine, meaning it wouldn’t be able to join NATO, and the recognition by Kiev that Crimea is part of Russia and the aforementioned republics are independent states.
The Kiev authorities have so far shown no willingness to give in to Russia, vowing to continue fighting an “unprovoked war.”

The Kremlin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov also addressed the issue on Saturday, noting that “we’ve repeatedly said that nobody excludes the possibility of Vladimir Putin’s meeting with President Zelensky. But we must understand what the result of such a meeting should be and what’s going to be discussed during it.”

Turkey, which is a Black Sea nation like Russia and Ukraine, enjoys good relations with both Moscow and Kiev, and is trying to play the role of a mediator in the conflict. On Wednesday, the Turkish resort of Antalya hosted talks between Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Ukraine’s top diplomat Dmytro Kuleba.

It was the most high-profile meeting between the sides since the start of the conflict on February 24.

Russia and Ukraine have also held several rounds of talks in Belarus in an attempt to resolve the crisis.

“There’s rapprochement on some issues” between Moscow and Kiev during the negotiating process. President Putin has already mentioned it and “we see it too,” Cavusoglu said, adding that the cessation of hostilities remains the prime objective.

The Turkish FM also reiterated Ankara’s unwillingness to join the implementation of harsh international sanctions on Moscow since it sent its troops into Ukraine in late February. “Our stance is open and clear: Sanctions don’t solve problems,” he pointed out.