Ankara- While the drums of war between Russia and Ukraine are beating, Turkey’s diplomatic efforts are quietly proceeding to prevent it. The Kremlin responded by accepting President Vladimir Putin’s invitation to his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, to visit Ankara, following his recent initiative to resolve the crisis. Erdogan will also visit Ukraine next month.
“As soon as the epidemiological situation allows first and the timetables second, Putin will certainly respond to this invitation,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.
Earlier, Erdogan affirmed that Ankara is ready to mediate, and said, “We can play the role of mediator so that peace prevails between Russia and Ukraine. We want peace to prevail in the region, and we are ready to do everything that falls on our shoulders.”
Relations between Kiev and Moscow have been strained for about 8 years, against the backdrop of Russia’s illegal annexation of the Ukrainian Crimea and its support for separatists loyal to it in the Donbass.
Recently, Ukraine and Western countries accused Russia of mobilizing its forces near the Ukrainian border, while Washington threatened to impose sanctions on Russia if it attacked Ukraine.
Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar stressed that his country’s efforts are continuing to settle the dispute between Ukraine and Russia, noting that his country had already made a very important contribution to the development of relations between the two countries.
In his speech during an event in the Turkish capital, the Ukrainian ambassador to Ankara, Wasil Bodnar, said that his country welcomes the Turkish initiative to mediate between Kiev and Moscow, and to bring together the leaders of the two countries.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova commented on the mediation offer, saying that it did not mention the conflict in Donbass. Previously, Moscow had expressed its dissatisfaction with Turkey’s supplying Ukraine with armed drones used in the region.
Mahmoud Rantisi, a researcher in Turkey’s foreign policy at the SITA Center for Studies in Ankara, explained the nature of the Kremlin’s response to Erdogan’s invitation as a diplomatic rejection, and said that it will lead to Putin’s visit to Ankara not being achieved in the context of mediation unless Putin sees – based on the progress of negotiations with his American counterpart Joe Biden – That working with Turkey may bring him some benefits.
Speaking to Al-Jazeera Net, Al-Rantissi suggested Putin’s rejection of Turkish mediation as it would make Erdogan a superior mediator than him, and Putin refuses to deal with his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky and sit with him at the negotiating table as parties to a conflict, in addition to that Turkey is a member of NATO, which is one of the countries Which welcomes Ukraine’s accession to the alliance.
The researcher believed that Turkey wanted to offer mediation to prove to Russia that it did not align itself with the West, pointing out that there were no clear and specific provisions for Turkish mediation, even though it was presented as an idea to prevent war.
The researcher at the SITA Center – close to the Turkish government – added that “Ankara is in a complex situation, as NATO imposing sanctions on Russia will cause it problems with the latter, and Russia’s occupation of parts of Ukraine will threaten its geopolitical position and force it to line up next to the West.
Al-Rantissi considered that Turkey is benefiting from the continuation of the situation of threat and tension that does not descend into war, because this increases its military exports to Ukraine and keeps Russia in a state of preoccupation with the West, which allows Turkey to move comfortably in Syria and Libya.
In the context, the Turkish writer Ibrahim Karagul told Al Jazeera Net that his country has a good relationship with Russia and Ukraine, so it can find a solution to the crisis.
He believed that the Turkish initiative faces several obstacles, but it will succeed in delaying the war at least if it does not succeed in preventing it.
Karagul stressed that his country is working hard to mitigate the crisis, and no matter what happens, it will avoid being a party to the war, explaining the importance of maintaining rapprochement with Russia on the one hand, and defending Ukraine’s unity on the other.
“Although it is a difficult equation, Turkey’s political mind will succeed in achieving it,” the Turkish writer said.
Reasonable chance of success
Maged Azzam, a researcher in international relations, believes that there is a reasonable chance for the success of Turkish mediation, venting the atmosphere of tension, and creating an appropriate environment for negotiation and a peaceful solution.
From Istanbul, Azzam told Al Jazeera Net, “Erdogan seeks, through mediation efforts, to break the psychological barrier and open channels of dialogue between the two parties, albeit indirectly at a first stage, and here is also an added value to Turkish efforts represented in Erdogan’s personal relations and the trust and credibility he enjoys with his Russian and Ukrainian counterparts.” “.
And he indicated that the possibility of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is unrealistic, because the latter is a large country and it is difficult to imagine its occupation according to Erdogan’s literal expression, according to him.
Azzam added, “The main concern of Turkish mediation will be to spread an atmosphere of calm and reduce friction as much as possible, and since Turkey has the second largest army in NATO, this helps it play a positive role and also influence Russia’s relationship with the alliance.”
The researcher pointed out that European countries such as Germany are adopting a quiet policy similar to the Turkish approach.
Azzam pointed out that the Turkish-Russian differences regarding Ukraine, Crimea, Syria and Libya, or even the export of defensive weapons to Kiev, did not affect the relations, which continued according to the priority of consensus and mutual interests and openness to discussing other files of differences.
The annual trade volume between Turkey and Russia amounts to about $30 billion, which gives the relationship between them a solid base.
Although the annual trade volume between Turkey and Ukraine is less than $5 billion, relations between them are strong, especially with Ankara exporting weapons and defense technologies to Kiev, and Ankara’s approval to establish a large factory to manufacture Bayraktar drones.
In addition, Turkey’s support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity is more evident in the Crimea, in which Turkey has a historical presence.