Russia and Ukraine are open to the idea of Turkey play a role in easing tensions between the two countries, as proposed by Ankara in November, Turkish diplomatic sources said Thursday evening.
Turkey is also in talks on organizing the next meeting of the OSCE Minsk Group, during which Ukraine’s eastern Donbass region will be discussed, the sources told reporters on condition of anonymity.
No date was set for a meeting in Istanbul, but representatives from Russia, Ukraine, the OSCE Minsk Group and Donbass were expected, they said, adding that the group would meet “frequently”.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told the RIA news agency that there were no preparations for such a meeting.
“There is nothing about this meeting,” he said, adding that Ukraine failed to respect the Minsk agreements on settling the conflict with pro-Moscow rebels, while Ukraine is supplied with weapons.
Western countries say they fear Russia is planning another assault on Ukraine after massing tens of thousands of troops near the border in recent months. Moscow denies planning an attack.
“Both Russia and Ukraine are warm to Turkey‘s mediation,” one of the sources said.
Member of NATO Turkey has good relations with Kiev and Moscow, but opposes Russian policies in Syria and Libya, as well as its annexation of the Crimean peninsula in 2014.
President Tayyip Erdogan said on Thursday he would visit Ukraine in early February and hoped to reunite Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy soon.
“A psychology of war in the region upsets us, as a country that has ties to both sides. Our wish is to reunite Mr. Putin and Mr. Zelenskiy as soon as possible,” Erdogan said at a press conference in Ankara.
Ukraine hosted TurkeyRussia’s involvement in negotiations with Russia. Zelenskiy said in November he had asked Erdogan to forward a list of prisoners to Putin for a possible prisoner exchange, although the exchange never took place.
Ukraine also bought Turkish drones to use in its war against Russian-backed forces in eastern Ukraine, angering Moscow, and struck a deal with Ankara on local drone manufacturing This year.
Ankara said two months ago it was ready to mediate in the crisis, an offer Moscow rejected at the time. He also said sanctions against Russia were not a solution, although the European Union on Thursday threatened “massive” sanctions in the event of an attack.
Talk about Turkey‘, Peskov told reporters on Wednesday: ‘If our Turkish partners are able to influence Kyiv and the implementation of previously concluded agreements, this could only be welcome.’