Erdogan stresses Turkey mediation between Russia, Ukraine with Biden
Still trying to obtain its official status as a mediator between Russia and Ukraine as the operation unfolds, Turkey tries to use it to propel its case of the removal of US sanctions.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday told US counterpart Joe Biden that mediating the Ukraine-Russia war was important to Ankara. Erdogan's words came following talks between Kiev and Moscow in Antalya, Turkey.
Turkey held talks between Kiev and Moscow in a bid to simmer down tensions as the Russian special military operation in Ukraine unfolds.
The talks failed to achieve a breakthrough on a ceasefire or humanitarian issues, though Ankara used it to highlight its role as a "mediator" in the crisis.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov had expressed his dissatisfaction with the Antalya talks, saying that despite Moscow being in favor of all communications that helped in resolving the Ukraine crisis, there are no alternatives to the negotiations in Belarus.
Erdogan said being able to talk to both sides and being a "facilitator" in the search for a resolution to the conflict mattered to Turkey during a phone call with his US counterpart, according to the Turkish presidency.
The White House said President Biden "expressed appreciation" for Turkey's mediation efforts and that both leaders "reaffirmed their strong support" for Ukraine during his 45-minute phone call with Erdogan.
According to Ankara, Erdogan also demanded the lifting of the sanctions Washington had imposed on Turkey in 2019 after it adopted a Russian defense system, the S-400.
Turkey has plans to acquire some 40 F-16 fighters, and the spare parts needed to maintain and modernize its existing fleet of F-16s after the US froze its purchase of F-35s following the 2019 Turkish acquisition from Russia.
Turkey had spent $1.4 billion, ordering F-35 stealth fighters, but the order never made it through because of Washington's sanctions.
Military experts see the S-400 as a threat for F-35 jets, which prompted the US to exclude Turkey from its military program.
Turkey had a diplomatic row with Russia over Ankara delivering its homemade combat drones, the Bayraktar TB-2, to Ukraine, which Kiev is now using against Russia in the latter's special military operation in Ukraine.
Despite the arms deal, Ankara still wanted to maintain good relations with Moscow, which it depends on for tourism, wheat, and energy supplies.
The talks Turkey hosted came in light of Russia's special military operation in Ukraine, which it launched for several reasons, such as NATO's eastward expansion, the Ukrainian shelling of Donbass, and the killing of the people of the Donetsk People's Republic and Lugansk People's Republic, in addition to Moscow wanting to "denazify" and demilitarize Ukraine.