Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said he believes Russia’s leader, Vladimir Putin is seeking an end to the war he began in Ukraine, and that a “significant step” will be made.
According to Erdogan, he had “very extensive discussions” with Putin at a summit in Uzbekistan last week.
Two months after Russian forces seized control over the entire eastern region of Luhansk, Ukraine has reclaimed part of the territory.
In a new interview with US broadcaster PBS, the Turkish leader said he believes that the Russian president wanted a speedy end to the war.
“He is actually showing me that he’s willing to end this as soon as possible,” Erdogan said. “That was my impression, because the way things are going right now are quite problematic.”
Erdogan also said 200 “hostages” would soon be exchanged between the two sides. He gave no further detail of who would be included in the prisoner swap.
The Turkish leader indicated things were “quite problematic” for Russia.
President Erdogan, has tried to mediate between Ukraine and Russia during the war refusing to take sides despite being a NATO member.
He helped the UN mediate a resumption of grain exports from Ukraine and said he was trying to organise direct ceasefire talks between both countries.
Last week Putin said he was open to meeting the Ukrainian president, but that Zelensky was not. He told India’s prime minister he wanted to end the fighting “as soon as possible”.
However, Russia has not given any indication that it is prepared to accept Kyiv’s demands for a full withdrawal from Ukrainian territory, including areas seized in 2014.
Crimea was annexed by Russia at the time, and now ex-President Dmitry Medvedev has said that Russian-backed separatists should hold “referendums” on annexing the territories of Luhansk and Donetsk – which are known as Donbas.
President Putin has repeatedly identified “liberation” of Ukraine’s Donbas region as Russia’s main goal. “Referendums in Donbas are essential,” said Mr Medvedev, who is now deputy head of Russia’s security council.
Asked by PBS whether Russia should be allowed to keep any territory it had taken since February, and whether that should be part of a peace deal, Erdogan said: “No, and undoubtedly no.”
He also said that “lands which were invaded will be returned to Ukraine”. It was not clear whether he also included territory held by Russian-backed separatists since 2014.
Asked whether Russia should be allowed to keep Crimea, annexed in 2014 – Erdogan said that since 2014, Turkey had been talking to Putin about returning the peninsula “to its rightful owners” but that no progress had been made.