Erdogan tells Putin he's 'ready to mediate permanent peace' in Ukraine

The pair discussed prisoner swaps, the grain corridor and Ankara restoring relations with Syria

Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke by phone with his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. AP
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Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said was standing by to broker a “permanent peace” between Ukraine and Moscow in a phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday.

“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 in a statement.

The Turkish leader has made similar offers in the past and has facilitated meetings between Ukrainian and Russian officials but no peace talks to date.

The pair discussed prisoner exchanges, particularly of wounded prisoners, and “the exchange of views on the situation around Ukraine continued,” the Kremlin said.

Russian state media said the phone call with Mr Erdogan focused on the prisoner exchange but also touched on what reports described as the West’s rejection of Moscow’s proposed Christmas ceasefire.

Mr Erdogan’s office said they also discussed the grain corridor to allow Ukraine and Russia to ship vital supplies of wheat and other crops through the Bosporus to international markets.

It added that the two men also talked about ammonium exports.

Mr Putin and Mr Erdogan confirmed their co-operation and stated their priorities still include Russian gas supplies and the creation of a regional gas hub in Turkey.

Kyiv has rejected the idea of halting fighting while Russian troops still occupy territory but President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said he’s open to “genuine peace talks” with Russia that included Moscow withdrawing forces, compensating Ukraine for damage and co-operating in war crimes investigations.

Mr Putin ordered a 36-hour ceasefire before Orthodox Christmas on January 7 but the move was rebuffed by Kyiv, which said there could be no truce until Russia withdraws its troops from occupied lands.

Ukraine’s allies also expressed concern, with US State Department spokesman Ned Price saying: “Our concern … is that the Russians would seek to use any temporary pause in fighting to rest, to refit, to regroup, and ultimately to reattack.”

The pair also discussed Turkey’s normalisation of diplomatic relations with Syria, a key Russian ally, over a decade after Ankara cut ties and backed armed groups trying to overthrow the regime in Damascus.

Updated: January 16, 2023, 3:13 PM