Erdogan tells Zelenskyy he is willing to mediate between Russia and Ukraine

Turkish leader's phone call follows similar offer to Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv in February 2022, weeks before Russia invaded. Reuters
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Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told Ukraine leader Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Friday he was willing to mediate between Russia and Ukraine to end the war between the countries.

In a phone call, Mr Erdogan said he was ready to contribute to permanent peace between the warring nations, the Turkish President's office said on Friday.

He said Ankara was ready to provide diplomatic support to ensure permanent peace between Russia and Ukraine, the Daily Sabah newspaper reported.

During the call, Mr Erdogan offered his condolences over the helicopter crash on Wednesday that killed 14 people, including the country's interior minister and three children.

On Monday, Mr Erdogan told Russian President Vladimir Putin in a phone call that he could broker a “permanent peace” between the two countries.

“During the call, President Erdogan reiterated that Turkey is ready to undertake the task of facilitating and mediating for the establishment of a lasting peace between Russia and Ukraine,” his office said on Monday.

The Turkish leader has facilitated meetings between Ukrainian and Russian officials, though no peace talks have yet taken place.

Earlier on Friday, Berlin refused to send its Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, despite urgent appeals from allies at a high-level defence meeting in Germany.

The meeting of defence ministers of Nato members and other countries was called to try to co-ordinate the West's support for Ukraine.

Russia claimed on Friday to have captured a village in eastern Ukraine, as part of its intense push towards the city of Bakhmut, AP reported.

Russian Defence Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov claimed the village of Klishchiivka, 9km south of Bakhmut, in Donbas region, had been “liberated”.

This came as military analysts said that battle tanks Kyiv hopes to receive from Western allies would not provide “a magic wand” to end the 11-month war.

Helicopter crash in Ukraine kills 18

Helicopter crash in Ukraine kills 18

Meanwhile, Ukraine's Energy Minister German Galushchenko on Friday warned of the worsening situation at the Russian-held Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station, in south-eastern Ukraine.

“The situation is indeed deteriorating. It is getting worse not only because of the mental state of the remaining Ukrainian specialists but also due to the condition of the equipment,” he told Ukrainian television.

Some Ukrainian staff have remained at Europe's largest nuclear plant since Russian forces captured it last March.

The power station has repeatedly come under fire, raising fears of a nuclear disaster, with each side blaming the other for the shelling.

UN watchdog the International Atomic Energy Agency is trying to set up a safe zone around the facility.

Ukrainian nuclear energy company Energoatom said Russian forces have continued to build fortifications around the plant's nuclear power units.

It said Russians at the station are unable to start up the power units because of a shortage of staff and that 1,500 Ukrainian specialists have been barred from entering, after refusing to sign contracts with Russian entities.

Updated: January 20, 2023, 6:24 PM