United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Thursday thanked Türkiye for its role in the exchange of prisoners of war between Ukraine and Russia.
"I thank the governments of Türkiye and Saudi Arabia for their role in securing this agreement," Guterres said at the U.N. Security Council meeting on Ukraine.
"Yesterday's news that more than 250 prisoners of war were exchanged between Ukraine and the Russian Federation was a welcome development," he added.
"I commend the efforts of those parties. I hope that we will build on these with further exchanging aiming at an all-for-all formula," he said.
The prisoner swap between Russia and Ukraine took place Wednesday after Türkiye's mediation and diplomatic efforts with the leaders of the two countries.
Touching on the landmark Russia-Ukraine grain export deal brokered by Türkiye and the U.N. in July, Guterres said so far more than 4.3 million metric tons of grain and food supplies have set off for 29 countries including Afghanistan and Yemen, across three continents, thanks to the agreement.
"Since the signing of the Black Sea Grain Initiative, global food prices have dropped sharply. Although they are still almost 8% higher than a year ago," he said.
Guterres said the U.N. also signed a memorandum with Russia on the full access of Russian food and fertilizer products including ammonium nitrate to global markets.
In his address to participating foreign ministers, Guterres pointed to the current situation of the Russia-Ukraine war, saying it does not seem to end.
He called Russian President Vladimir Putin's decision of partial military mobilization "dangerous and disturbing," saying it will lead to more bloodshed.
The so-called referendum plans in eastern Ukraine are also extremely worrying, Guterres said, adding that annexing another country's territory by using force violates international law and the U.N. Convention.
He said the International Criminal Court (ICC) has launched an investigation into alleged human rights violations in Ukraine, calling on the parties to cooperate with the institution.
Also, Ukraine on Thursday highlighted Erdoğan's role in securing the prisoner swap deal with Russia.
A news conference about the deal that led to the release of 215 Ukrainian war prisoners from Russian captivity on Wednesday was held at the Ukrainian presidency.
It was attended by senior Ukrainian officials, including Andriy Yermak, head of the Office of the Ukrainian Presidency, Interior Minister Denys Monastyrsky and ambassadors from the United States, the United Kingdom and Sweden.
Yermak singled out Erdoğan's role and thanked all parties who took part to realize the deal.
"It was important to maintain constant communication with Erdoğan in the course," he said.
Yermak said the latest phase of the deal took place in the Turkish national capital of Ankara.
"Erdoğan's personal initiative and efforts and Türkiye's role as interlocutor are worth appreciation," he added.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy also thanked Erdoğan "for his leading role in liberating our people."
Türkiye hosts 200 people after the Russia-Ukraine prisoner exchange deal, President Erdoğan said Friday, adding one of them was sent to Russia upon Putin’s request.
Hailing the prisoner swap between Russia and Ukraine, Erdoğan had said Ankara will continue its efforts to ensure peace between the two countries.
"Our efforts to establish peace between Russia and Ukraine continue. I thank Putin and Zelenskyy for enabling the prisoner exchange ... This development made us very happy," Erdoğan told reporters on Wednesday at the Turkish House (Türkevi) center in New York.
"Türkiye has now received the result of its belief in the power of dialogue and diplomacy with this prisoners exchange," he added.
Erdoğan said he will hold phone calls with Putin and Zelenskyy as soon as he returned from New York, where the Turkish president addressed the U.N. General Assembly.
He added that the U.N. should take initiative and make more efforts to resolve the conflict between Russia and Ukraine.
"Unfortunately, the U.N. could not end the war, could not stop the bloodshed, nor could it find a solution to the energy and food crises that emerged as a result of the war. The efforts of the U.N. secretary-general to establish the grain corridor on this issue have somewhat reassured the U.N., but there is no doubt that more efforts should be made to end the war," Erdoğan said.
Türkiye, the United Nations, Russia and Ukraine signed an agreement in Istanbul on July 22 to restart grain exports from three Ukrainian Black Sea ports, which were paused after the Russia-Ukraine war began in February.
Ankara's "only aim" is to end the bloodshed and to establish peace since the Russia-Ukraine war began in February, Erdoğan said, adding: "We have always expressed our commitment to Ukraine's territorial integrity, sovereignty and political unity since the annexation of Crimea in 2014. Since the beginning of the Ukraine-Russia war, we have emphasized that the steps taken by Russia at this point are unfair and unacceptable."
Erdoğan said Türkiye is in favor of diplomacy to resolve crises and outstanding issues.