Erdogan urges Putin to declare Ukraine ceasefire and make peace

Turkey says it wants to bring together foreign ministers from Ukraine and Russia for talks

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Kyiv, Ukraine, on February 3. Reuters

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday urged Russian leader Vladimir Putin to declare a ceasefire in Ukraine, open humanitarian corridors and reach a peace deal, his office said.

Nato member Turkey shares a maritime border with Russia and Ukraine in the Black Sea and has good relations with both.

Ankara has called Russia's incursion unacceptable and offered to host talks, but it has opposed sanctions against Moscow.

The Turkish presidency said that after a one-hour phone call, Mr Erdogan told Mr Putin that Ankara was ready to contribute to a peaceful resolution of the conflict.

"President Erdogan, who said an immediate ceasefire will not only ease humanitarian concerns in the region but also give the search for a political solution an opportunity, renewed his call of 'let's pave the way for peace together'," his office said.

"Erdogan emphasised the importance of taking urgent steps to achieve a ceasefire, open humanitarian corridors and sign a peace agreement."

The Kremlin said Mr Putin told Mr Erdogan that Russia would halt its military operation only if Ukraine stopped fighting and if Moscow's demands were met. It said the operation was going to plan.

Russia calls its assault a "special military operation". It has uprooted more than 1.5 million people in what the UN says is the fastest growing refugee crisis in Europe since the Second World War.

Turkey has said it would be "naive" to expect results from the Ukraine-Russia negotiations while fighting continues.

Defence Minister Hulusi Akar later spoke to his Ukrainian equivalent Oleksii Reznikov by phone and told him that a ceasefire, even for a limited time, was urgently needed for safe civilian evacuations and aid shipments, his ministry said.

It said Mr Akar had also conveyed Turkey's expectation that the safety of Turks not yet moved out of Ukraine was ensured.

Mr Erdogan, who has called Mr Putin a "friend", had last spoken to the Russian leader on February 23, a day before Russia launched its incursion.

The call makes him the third Nato leader to speak to Mr Putin since his offensive, after the leaders of Germany and France.

While forging close ties with Russia on defence, trade and energy, and hosting millions of Russian tourists every year, Turkey has also sold drones to Ukraine, angering Moscow.

It also opposes Russian policies in Syria and Libya, as well as its 2014 annexation of Crimea.

Ankara has said it wants to bring together foreign ministers from Ukraine and Russia for talks at a diplomacy forum next week in southern Turkey.

Both countries have welcomed the offer, but Turkey says it is unclear whether they will be able to attend.

Updated: March 07, 2022, 12:31 AM