Turkey does not want a war between Russia and Ukraine and hopes the issue will be resolved peacefully, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said late Tuesday ahead of his visit to Ukraine on Thursday to try and calm the tensions between Kyiv and Moscow.
"We would never want a war between Russia and Ukraine. This is not a good omen for the region. As a NATO country, we do not want such a thing, we do not accept it ... I hope we can resolve this peacefully," he said at a youth event during a visit to the northeastern city of Trabzon.
Erdoğan said he will be heading to Ukraine this month and Russian President Vladimir Putin will come to Turkey in the near future.
Turkey has been closely following the developments and is in close contact with both Kyiv and Moscow.
The president has said on multiple occasions in recent weeks that he is ready to host the leaders of Russia and Ukraine to help defuse tensions between Moscow and Kyiv.
Erdoğan will try to leverage his strategic position in NATO and his rapport with Putin when he visits Kyiv on Thursday in a bid to head off war in Ukraine.
The Turkish leader hopes mediation between Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy can avert a Russian offensive that Washington warns could start by mid-February.
Erdoğan also said relations between Turkey and Russia are now better than at any point in history, which has allowed them to drastically boost their trade volume.
The deal for the Russian S-400 missile defense system was an important step for Turkey and Russia, said Erdoğan, and added that the international community, particularly the United States, was uncomfortable with Ankara's decision.
Meanwhile, Presidential Spokesperson Ibrahim Kalın and U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan spoke on Tuesday and discussed their commitment to "deter further Russian aggression against Ukraine," the White House said in a statement.
Turkish public broadcaster TRT Haber said Kalın told Sullivan that Turkey would provide "all forms of support" to resolving the Ukraine crisis and a Thursday visit there by Erdoğan would "contribute to solving the issue with diplomacy."
Turkey offered in November to mediate in the crisis. Diplomatic sources said last month both Russia and Ukraine were open to the idea of Ankara helping.
Turkey is a maritime neighbor of both Ukraine and Russia in the Black Sea, and has good ties with both. It has called on them to avoid any military conflict and warned Russia that an invasion of Ukraine would be unwise.
Earlier on Tuesday, Putin accused the West of deliberately creating a scenario designed to lure it into war and ignoring Russia's security concerns over Ukraine.
Kalın and Sullivan had also discussed talks between Turkey and Armenia to normalize ties after decades of animosity.
Ties between NATO allies Turkey and the U.S. have been strained over a host of issues in recent years, including Turkey's purchase of Russian S-400 missile systems and policy differences in Syria and the Eastern Mediterranean.
The allies have agreed to put aside differences and focus on areas of cooperation but that has yielded little public improvement.