Türkiye has expressed its readiness to mediate between Ukraine and Russia once again to bring them back to the negotiating table. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan made this announcement during a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Sochi, Russia. Erdogan stated that his country had previously hosted direct talks between the opposing sides in the conflict and that Ankara is prepared to do everything within its power to act as a mediator.
President Putin, in response, blamed Kiev for the failure of previous peace efforts. He mentioned that agreements had been made with Erdogan’s mediation and that draft documents had been agreed upon between the Russian and Ukrainian delegations. However, Moscow claimed that Kiev eventually discarded these agreements. Putin criticized the peace initiatives proposed since then, noting that Moscow had not been involved in any discussions regarding them. He emphasized that Russia has never refused any mediation efforts, including those offered by China, African nations, and Türkiye.
The two presidents discussed various topics during their meeting, including the development of bilateral relations and the Black Sea grain initiative. It is worth mentioning that Russia had withdrawn from the Black Sea grain initiative in July, which was also a topic of discussion.
President Putin explained that Russia withdrew from the initiative because the West did not fulfill its side of the bargain and lift sanctions on Russian agricultural exports. However, he stated that Russia is willing to return to the deal once its grievances are addressed.
In recent months, several African nations, Brazil, and China have offered their visions for achieving peace between Ukraine and Russia. Similarly, Kiev has presented its own plan, which includes the unconditional withdrawal of Russian forces from all territories within Ukraine’s 1991 borders, reparations, and a tribunal for suspected war criminals. However, Moscow dismissed this plan as detached from reality.
Russian officials have also pointed out Ukraine’s unwillingness to negotiate, referencing a decree signed by President Vladimir Zelensky last October. The decree rules out talks for as long as Putin remains in power. This decree further highlights the lack of progress in the negotiation process.
It is important to note that when representatives from both sides sat down for negotiations in Istanbul in late February and March of last year, Ukraine pulled out of the talks in early April. Ukrainian officials cited alleged war crimes committed by retreating Russian troops in Kiev’s suburbs as the reason for abandoning the negotiation process. However, Moscow has denied these claims.
Despite the challenges and disagreements, Türkiye remains committed to facilitating peace talks between Ukraine and Russia. Erdogan’s statement reiterates the country’s willingness to act as a mediator and hopes to bring the two sides together to find a resolution to the ongoing conflict.