The ongoing tension between Russia and Ukraine can be resolved peacefully with Turkey's mediation, the Ukrainian ambassador to Ankara said on Monday.
Speaking to reporters after opening the Turkey-Ukraine memorial forest in the southern Turkish province of Adana, Vasyl Bodnar said Russia is amassing soldiers along Ukrainian borders.
"We expect this situation to be resolved peacefully. But of course, we are ready to defend ourselves, if necessary," he said.
The Ukrainian envoy hoped Russia will end this crisis before it turns into a war, adding: "We can resolve this situation peacefully with Turkey's mediation."
About a recent visit by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to Ukraine, Bodnar said the visit displayed Turkey's high level of support.
Following his visit to Kyiv earlier this month, Erdoğan said that he offered to host a summit of Russian and Ukrainian leaders in Turkey to de-escalate tensions and find a diplomatic solution to the current crisis.
While there he reiterated that Turkey stands by its decision not to recognize the annexation of Crimea and declared Ankara's support for Ukraine's Crimean Platform initiative.
The several deals signed between the two countries also showed "how serious and strong strategic partners we are," Bodnar said. "That's why we see the support and solidarity of both the government and the people of Turkey."
"We should not listen to the rumors that there is a crisis between Russia and the West, because this is actually a crisis between Russia and Ukraine," the envoy added.
Moscow and Kyiv have been locked in a conflict since hostilities in the eastern Donbass region broke out in 2014 after Russia annexed the Crimean Peninsula.
Russia has amassed more than 100,000 troops near Ukraine's borders, prompting fears it could be planning another military offensive against the former Soviet republic.
The United States and its allies have warned of an imminent attack, and threatened Russia with "severe consequences."
Moscow, however, has denied it is preparing to invade Ukraine and said its troops are there for exercises. The Kremlin also issued a list of security demands from the West, including a rollback of troop deployments to some ex-Soviet states and guarantees that Ukraine and Georgia will not join NATO.
Turkey has been closely following the developments and is in close contact with both Kyiv and Moscow. Ankara has also offered to mediate talks between them.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has accepted President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s invitation to visit Turkey amid the tensions and will make the trip once the pandemic and schedules allow, the Kremlin said.
If Turkey is assigned a mediator role following the meeting with Putin, Ankara will accept the offer to help in the Ukrainian crisis in this capacity and will try to do its part, Erdoğan also said.
Turkey shares the Black Sea with Ukraine and Russia. While forging cooperation on defense and energy, Turkey has opposed Moscow’s policies in Syria and Libya, as well as its annexation of the Crimean Peninsula in 2014. It has also sold sophisticated drones to Ukraine, angering Russia. Turkey has good ties with Kyiv and Moscow but has said it would do what is necessary as a NATO member if Russia invades.
Turkey has expressed that it is willing to mediate between the two sides if they accept. The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) has suggested holding the Minsk trilateral meeting in Turkey, which Ankara has welcomed, since the gathering cannot be held in Belarus due to tensions with other countries.