Turkey’s President Says Russia Ought to Return Captured Ukrainian Territories

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President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey mentioned on Monday that Russia ought to return all Ukrainian territory it has captured, and indicated that negotiations that he has been serving to mediate are shifting in that route.

“The lands which had been invaded might be returned to Ukraine,” Mr. Erdogan mentioned in an interview with “PBS NewsHour.” He was cautious to not criticize President Vladimir V. Putin over his conduct of the conflict, however drew a transparent line on the return of territory.

“That is what is anticipated,” Mr. Erdogan mentioned. “That is what is needed. Putin has taken sure steps. We’ve got taken sure steps.”

“An invasion can’t be justified,” he added.

Mr. Erdogan has positioned himself as a mediator between Ukraine and Russia and hosted preliminary peace talks in Istanbul in March, though these discussions had been inconclusive. Within the interview, Mr. Erdogan prompt that Moscow and Kyiv could also be near reaching an settlement to change 200 “hostages,” which might be one of many largest prisoner swaps within the seven-month conflict.

“2 hundred hostages might be exchanged upon settlement between the events. I feel a major step might be taken ahead,” he mentioned, offering no additional particulars.

Ukraine and Russia agreed on a prisoner swap in late June that noticed 144 Ukrainians exchanged, most of them fighters from the Azovstal metal manufacturing facility in Mariupol.

Information of the potential change got here quickly after Mr. Putin met with Mr. Erdogan final week in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, to debate the conflict. Mr. Erdogan mentioned the assembly gave him the impression that “he’s prepared to finish this as quickly as potential.”

“It is a battle that ended up in casualties,” Mr. Erdogan mentioned. “The individuals are dying, and no one might be profitable on the finish of the day.”

Mr. Erdogan additionally expressed opposition to the annexation of Crimea, the Black Sea peninsula that Russia seized in 2014. He mentioned he had repeatedly requested Moscow to “return Crimea to its rightful house owners,” with out outcome.

The relationship between the 2 autocrats has grown nearer lately, outlined by the fluctuating energy dynamics and mutual pursuits. Turkey has opposed Russian’s invasion of Ukraine, however Mr. Erdogan has sought to take care of an in depth relationship with Mr. Putin, attempting to mitigate the fallout in Turkey of the Ukraine conflict as he heads into an election yr along with his nation’s economic system imploding.

He has refused to use Western financial sanctions towards Russia’s business and broader economic system and mediated a deal to permit grain exports out of Ukraine. The 2 leaders have met a number of instances to debate increasing their diplomatic partnership and to barter financial cooperation.

Mr. Erdogan’s feedback got here after combating erupted final week on the border of Nagorno-Karabakh, an enclave on the heart of a decades-long battle between Azerbaijan and Armenia — with Turkey supporting Azerbaijan and Russia having intervened to avoid wasting Armenia. The lethal clashes have raised the prospect of Russia’s shedding affect after Moscow moved a few of its troops from the south Caucasus to Ukraine.



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