Erdogan supports Ukraine’s bid for NATO and says Putin will visit Turkey next month – POLITICO

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said early Saturday that his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin will visit Turkey next month, and stressed his enthusiasm for peace talks in which Ankara could play a decisive role.

This was stated during a visit to Istanbul by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who called him his “dear friend”.

After more than two hours of talks at Istanbul’s Vahiddin Palace, Erdogan also backed Kiev’s membership in NATO and offered a staunch defense of Ukraine’s independence, declaring that Russia’s invasion violated international law.

Noting that Turkey had made the “biggest effort” of any country in previous diplomatic attempts and emphasizing Ankara’s role in a deal to allow Ukraine to export grain from the Black Sea, Erdogan insisted that Turkey had the “most sincere desire” to see Kiev and Moscow return to the negotiating table. .

Zelensky also noted that “Turkey is ready to take a leading role” in the Kiev peace plan.

Both Erdoğan and Zelensky had hoped the grain export deal would be extended soon, and the Turkish leader added that it would make sense to start renewing it for longer periods of time than every two months. Erdogan said he would initially discuss with Putin the idea of ​​extending the agreement to three months, but then suggested that the full program be for two years to help fight hunger in poor countries.

The Turkish president made a strategic balancing act over the course of the war. while wide Condemns the illegality of Putin’s invasion And supplying Bayraktar drones to Ukrainian forces, Turkey has also emerged as a key route to avoiding sanctions and cannot afford to alienate Moscow due to its heavy dependence on Russia for energy.

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Erdogan was quick to show his support for Putin during Yevgeny Prigozhin’s failed rebellion last month, just as Putin backed him amid Turkey’s still-so-mysterious coup attempt in 2016.

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