Turkey aims for peace to prevail and hopes no other adverse developments will take place in the region, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said as Turkey has intensified its diplomatic efforts for a mediator role to de-escalate tensions between Russia and Ukraine while the international community is worried about a large-scale war.
"A psychology of war in the region upsets us, as a country that has ties with both sides. Our hope is to bring together Mr. (Russian President Vladimir) Putin and (Ukrainian President Volodymyr) Zelenskyy as soon as possible and to ensure that they have a face-to-face meeting," Erdoğan said Thursday after a joint news conference with El Salvador President Nayib Bukele in the Turkish capital Ankara, in which they signed six agreements as both countries pledged to enhance their ties in several fields.
Erdoğan underlined that he places great importance on both his visit to Ukraine and Putin's visit to Turkey.
"I will visit Ukraine at the beginning of next month,” he noted.
Also addressing reporters on Friday, Erdoğan reiterated that Turkey can be the broker to establish peace between Ukraine and Russia.
"Any development towards the occupation or the outbreak of a war constitutes a very serious violation for the peace of the region. As Turkey, we do not accept the emergence of unrest here," he said.
"We want peace to prevail in the region, and for this, we are ready to do whatever comes our way," he said and added that may talk with Putin on phone or visit him in Moscow in addition to his planned Ukraine visit.
Underlining that Russia invading Ukraine is not a realistic scenario, Erdoğan warned Tuesday that the region could not endure another war.
Turkey is ready to play a role in de-escalating tensions between Russia and Ukraine, Presidential Spokesperson Ibrahim Kalın also said Tuesday, announcing Erdoğan will be traveling to Kyiv to hold talks with Zelenskyy in a couple of weeks.
Russia will only welcome efforts if Turkish partners can encourage Ukraine to implement the Minsk Protocol, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said Wednesday in their initial response.
Meanwhile, both Russia and Ukraine are open to the idea of Turkey playing a role in easing tensions between the two countries, as proposed by Ankara in November, Turkish diplomatic sources said Thursday.
Turkey is discussing the possibility of hosting the next meeting of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe's (OSCE) Minsk Group, during which Ukraine's eastern Donbass region will be discussed, the sources told reporters on condition of anonymity.
No date has been set for an Istanbul meeting but representatives from Russia, Ukraine, the OSCE Minsk Group and Donbass are expected to attend, they said, adding the group would meet "frequently."
According to the Kremlin, however, Peskov told RIA news agency that there have been no preparations for such a meeting.
"There is nothing on this meeting," he was quoted as saying, adding that Ukraine has not abided by the Minsk accords on the settlement of the conflict with pro-Moscow rebels, while weapons are supplied to Ukraine.
Western countries say they fear Russia is planning a new offensive against Ukraine after it massed tens of thousands of troops near the border in recent months. Moscow denies planning an attack.
One source said that both Russia and Ukraine responded positively to Turkey's offer to mediate.
NATO member Turkey has friendly ties with both Kyiv and Moscow but opposes Russian policies in Syria and Libya, as well as its annexation of the Crimean Peninsula in 2014.
Ukraine has welcomed Turkey's involvement in negotiations with Russia. Zelenskyy said in November he had asked Erdoğan to pass on a list of prisoners to Putin for a potential prisoner swap, though the swap never took place.
Kyiv has also bought Turkish drones to possibly use against Russian-backed forces in eastern Ukraine, angering Moscow, and agreed with Ankara to manufacture the drones locally this year.
Ankara said that it was ready to be a mediator in the crisis two months ago, an offer Moscow dismissed at the time. It has also said sanctions on Russia are not a solution, though the European Union threatened "massive" sanctions on Thursday if there is an attack.
Speaking about Turkey's proposals, Peskov told reporters on Wednesday, "If our Turkish partners can influence Kyiv and the implementation of the earlier reached agreements, this could only be welcomed."