President Tayyip Erdogan said on Sunday that Turkey was working for a peaceful resolution of the conflict between Ukraine and Russia after an increase in violence in the Donbass region and a Russian build-up of troops on the border.
Erdogan called for an end to escalating tensions in Donbass after holding talks with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in Istanbul on Saturday, telling him Turkey was ready to provide any necessary support.
He also discussed the issue in a phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday, in which Putin accused Ukraine of “dangerous provocative actions” in Donbass.
Kiev has raised the alarm over a buildup of Russian forces near the border between Ukraine and Russia, and over a rise in violence along the line of contact separating Ukrainian troops and Russia-backed separatists in Donbass.
The US says Russia has amassed more troops on Ukraine’s eastern border than at any time since 2014, when it annexed Crimea from Ukraine and backed separatists in Donbass.
Moscow denies its troops are a threat, but says they will remain as long as it sees fit.
“For the peaceful and secure future of our region, we want both countries to resolve their disagreements as soon as possible through negotiations and with peace, and we are working towards this,” Erdogan told an event in Istanbul.
NATO member Turkey has forged close cooperation with Russia in conflicts in Syria, Libya and Nagorno-Karabakh, as well as in the defense and energy sectors.
However, Turkey criticized Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014, and expressed support for Ukraine’s territorial integrity. It also sold drones to Kiev in 2019.
Major combat in Donbass ended with a truce agreed in the Belarusian capital Minsk in 2015, whose implementation France and Germany have helped to oversee. Sporadic fighting continues despite repeated attempts to implement a ceasefire.