Turkey is ready to provide a platform for peace talks between Russia and Ukraine, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Thursday.
In an interview with the RT Arabic TV channel, Lavrov noted that Turkey does not have a plan for solving the crisis but that the negotiations in Istanbul were constructive and marked the first time Ukraine had presented its vision of a peace treaty in written form.
Currently, the peace talks have stalled, and Russia passed the latest version of the draft peace treaty to Ukraine and it has been on the Ukrainian side without any movement since then, Lavrov said.
He called remarks by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy "an unserious approach" after he said that any peace talks could only take place between himself and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, pointing out that the conclusion of any treaty requires thorough preparatory work, which is being done at levels other than the presidential level.
The minister noted that former NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, at the request of the Ukrainians, is working on some kind of "group" in which he will prepare "guarantees" for Ukraine in the context of a peaceful settlement.
"If Anders Fogh Rasmussen was called upon to cobble together some ‘guarantees' through a narrow circle of Western sponsors of the Ukrainian regime and then try to present it to the Russian Federation, then this is a dead end," he warned.
Turkey is one of the most active countries working to ensure a permanent cease-fire between Ukraine and Russia. Its delicately balanced act of assuming a role as a mediator by keeping communication channels with both warring sides open provides a glimmer of hope in diplomatic efforts to find a solution and achieve peace in the Ukraine crisis. With its unique position of having friendly relations with both Russia and Ukraine, Turkey has won widespread praise for its push to end the war.
Since the beginning of the conflict, Ankara has offered to mediate between the two sides and host peace talks, underlining its support for Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty. While Ankara has opposed international sanctions designed to isolate Moscow, it also closed its straits to prevent some Russian vessels from crossing through them.
In a breakthrough, Russian and Ukrainian delegations met for peace talks in Istanbul on March 29 as the war entered its second month with casualties piling up on both sides.
During the talks, Ukrainian officials signaled readiness to negotiate a “neutral status,” a key Russian demand, but demanded security guarantees for their country. Ukraine wants to see countries, including Turkey, as guarantors in a deal with Russia, a Ukrainian negotiator said after the talks. Russia, meanwhile, pledged to significantly decrease its military activities, focusing on the Ukrainian cities of Kyiv and Chernihiv to build trust for future negotiations.
Turkey also hosted the foreign ministers of Russia and Ukraine in Antalya in March. Foreign Ministers Sergey Lavrov of Russia and Dmytro Kuleba of Ukraine met in the Turkish resort town of Antalya for talks, which Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu also attended. The talks were largely inconclusive, but Ankara views the fact that the talks took place at all as a success. Ankara has offered to host future peace talks.