Turkey's Erdoğan, Russia's Putin

Ukraine crisis: Putin accepts Erdoğan’s invitation to visit Turkey

Turkey, a member of NATO but with good relations with Ukraine and Russia, could play a key mediating role in avoiding an imminent war.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has accepted the proposal of his Turkish counterpart Tayyip Erdoğan to visit Turkey and talk about the tensions over the Ukraine crisis, Kremlin sources confirmed on Thursday, amid the worrying war escalation that raises fears of a possible war that, according to analysts, could be unleashed in February, given that the negotiations between Moscow, Washington and NATO do not seem to advance.

Speaking to media, Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevüt Çavuşoğlu confirmed today that Putin will announce the date of his visit to Turkey – which could take place in the second week of February – once the Russian president returns from his scheduled trip to attend the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, which are scheduled to start on February 4.

During an interview broadcasted yesterday on television, Erdoğan insisted that Turkey wishes and can play a mediating role in the Ukraine crisis, and is willing to organise a meeting between the Russian and Ukrainian presidents on Turkish soil to “pave the way towards restoration of peace”, as tensions between the two countries grow to a point where, as NATO General Secretary Jens Stoltenberg has warned, Russia is increasing its troops “not only in Ukraine, but also in Belarus”.

“Turkey wants the tensions between Russia and Ukraine to be resolved, before they become a new crisis,” Erdoğan insisted during the interview, after announcing just a few days ago plans to travel to Ukraine in February in an attempt to mediate in a conflict that threatens to unleash a new Cold War. In order to negotiate, Moscow demands to be able to veto NATO’s expansion to the East, more specifically to Ukraine and Georgia: something that the Alliance categorically rejects.

Both Ukraine and Russia support Turkey’s mediation

A member of NATO since 1952 – just 3 years after the UK – and with the second largest armed forces in the Alliance (only surpassed by the United States), Turkey has good political and economic ties with both Kiev and Moscow, although it has strongly opposed Russia’s foreign policy in Syria or Libya, and has denounced the persecution of Tatars on numerous occasions since Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula in 2014.

The Ukrainian government recently announced the purchase of Turkish military drones – which other NATO countries have already acquired, and which Azerbaijan used with great success in its recent war with Armenia in the Caucasus – to use them in its conflict against pro-Russian forces who control the Donbas region, unleashing the wrath of Moscow. However, both Russia and Ukraine are favorable to the idea of ​​Ankara playing a mediating role in the conflict, according to Turkish diplomatic sources: so, Erdoğan’s invitation to Putin could be a first step towards a de-escalation that gets to avoid a war.