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Russia, Ukraine mulling Turkey mediation, sources say

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov is seen as a moderator of Russian President Vladimir Putin's annual press conference in Moscow, Russia on December 17, 2020 [Sefa Karacan/Anadolu Agency]
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov is seen as a moderator of Russian President Vladimir Putin's annual press conference in Moscow, Russia on December 17, 2020 [Sefa Karacan/Anadolu Agency]

Both Russia and Ukraine are opening up to the possibility of Turkish mediation in their dispute and military confrontation, Turkish diplomatic sources have reportedly confirmed.

According to the Reuters news agency, the anonymous Turkish sources said "Both Russia and Ukraine are warm to Turkey's mediation." It comes after Ankara offered its mediation in November, as tensions between Kyiv and Moscow flared in a new round of Russian threats to invade the rest of Ukraine.

While the Ukrainian government has expressed its willingness to have Turkey as a mediator, Russia had until now dismissed the offer.

On Wednesday, however, the Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters that "If our Turkish partners are able to influence Kyiv and the implementation of the earlier reached agreements, this could only be welcomed."

Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan is set to travel to Ukraine in early February, and has expressed his hope to hold a meeting between Russian and Ukrainian counterparts Vladimir Putin and Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

OPINION: Turkey and Ukraine could each be the foreign policy saviour of the other

At a news conference in Ankara on Thursday, Erdogan stated that "a psychology of war in the region upsets us, as a country that has ties with both sides. Our wish is to bring Mr Putin and Mr Zelenskiy together as soon as possible".

The following day, the president reiterated Turkey's offer to mediate between the two, stressing that "we want peace to prevail in the region, and for this, we are ready to do our part".

Following Russia's invasion and annexation of the Crimean Peninsula in 2014, as well as its igniting of conflict in Ukraine's eastern Donbass region through pro-Russian militias, many saw a full-blown invasion of the country as inevitable. Those fears have only increased since last year and through to this month, with Russian and NATO troops amassing behind each side of the border.

While Turkey has made no direct military allegiance with either Kyiv or Moscow and has maintained good relations with both, it has supplied Ukraine with armed combat drones and has warned Russia against an invasion.

READ: Turkey drones risk destabilising situation in east Ukraine, Russia warns

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