Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan is the only leader of the Euro-Atlantic community who congratulated Vladimir Putin on his “victory” in the so-called presidential elections in Russia.

Erdogan also assured the Kremlin that “Turkey is ready to play any facilitator role in returning to the negotiation table in Ukraine.”

Meanwhile, according to the latest statements by the Turkish Foreign Ministry, Ankara believes that the war in Ukraine has become a “war of attrition,” with no expectation that it will end in 2024.

“We in Turkey are disturbed by this situation. There is a risk that the war will spread to the region…There is no reason to expect the development of this issue [end to the war] in 2024. We do not see it in the near future,” Turkey’s Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan told CNN Türk.

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Kyiv Post asked Roman Grishchuk, a Deputy from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s Servant of the People party, about Kyiv’s position on Turkish efforts to host peace talks between Ukraine and Russia, Ankara’s current role in the region, and the key developments in Ukrainian-Turkish relations during the full-scale war.

Ankara pushes its peace efforts while interested in Ukraine’s peace formula

Ankara has been publicly advocating peace talks between Ukraine and the Russian Federation since the beginning of the full-scale Russian invasion, Grishchuk said. And over two years later, according to him, Turkey remains ready to host peace negotiations between the warring sides.

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The good news from the US should be the stimulus for energizing joint efforts within the democratic world to stand up to Russia and the dangerous tyranny and chauvinism it represents.

“The Turkish side considers the strategy which it chose, to be correct. ...I believe they expect to become a country that will mediate some negotiations after the war ends. When will that happen...? They may have to wait a long time,” he said.

However, he said that Ukraine put forward a clear position at the first Global Peace Summit in Switzerland “civilized countries should develop a common vision regarding any conversation at all [with representatives of Russia].”

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Grishchuk cited the statement of Ukraine’s President that those who kill and violate all international agreements must not attend the Switzerland Summit and said “... I don't think that Turkey will insist that they will not come [to Switzerland] if Russia is not [there]. I think that Turkey will join, in particular [because of] the agreed issue of food security.”

Realpolitik of Turkey

The lawmaker describes Turkey's approach as “Realpolitik;” the German term for political or diplomatic reality based primarily on power and given circumstances, rather than following ideological, moral, or ethical aspects.

“Turkey is a country that knows its strategy and place, as well as what are in its own best interests. Therefore, if they speak about peace talks between Ukraine and Russia, then they either believe in it, or this is their position,” he said, arguing the possibility that the Russians may use Turkey as a platform to promote its own opinions. 

Grishchuk noted that Turkey should not be compared to other European countries that have warmer relations with Russia (not mentioning anyone in particular).

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“Turkey has its path and its own interest, and it clearly pursues this real policy. Turkey is a powerful regional actor that is increasing its power and is very subjective in the region. And they aware of that,” he continued.

According to Grishchuk, even if Ukraine does not always share the Turkish position or may find it on certain issues peculiar, we should respect it.

“Because this is their international policy. And I don't think there are any preconditions for them to change their position. So, we need to build our relations with Turkey while understanding this specificity,” the lawmaker said.

Relations between Ukraine and Turkey during the full-scale war

Grishchuk highlighted that just a few weeks before the full-scale invasion of Russia, Ukraine and Turkey signed a free trade agreement, although it has yet to ratified by either country’s parliaments, he expects it to take effect in the coming months.

“The path towards this signing took 10 years. In my opinion, it was the culmination of bilateral relations between Ukraine and Turkey,” he said.

Despite Turkey's decision to follow its own approach to the full-scale war, it fully supports Ukraine's territorial integrity, including the position regarding Crimea. “They have been constantly and clearly vocal in their support for Ukraine in this regard,” the MP added.

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Grishchuk mentioned military and political support as evidence of Turkey's commitment to Ukraine. Its military support included the provision of Bayraktar UAVs, while political support includes Erdogan's decision to block the Bosphorus strait in the first days of the full-scale invasion under the Montreux Convention (1936). Turkey also helped in the release of POWs, including senior commanders from the Azov regiment. Additionally, there was a significant diplomatic victory with the “grain deal” in July 2022.

“Zelensky's talks with Erdogan in Istanbul [on Mar. 8] included the second point of the Ukrainian peace formula which is food security. We hope Turkey can help on this issue because it has experience of diplomatic victory within the grain initiative,” Grishchuk said.

For now, according to him, Ukraine needs “absolute security of navigation in the Black Sea, which is impossible without being together with Turkey.”

Speaking about the release of Ukrainian political prisoners, including Nariman Dzhelyal and Lenia Umerova, he spoke on the “unique role of Turkey.”

He said that “during his March visit, Zelensky handed over the list of Ukrainian citizens, including Crimean Tatars, held in Russian prisons to Erdogan.”

Grishchuk expressed confidence in the strength of Vasyl Bondar, Ukraine's ambassador to Turkey, who has held the position since July 2021. He is also confident that Ukraine has a good understanding of Turkish politics.

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“However, we must understand that, according to polls, attitudes inside Turkey are more anti-American than anti-Russian. While there is support for Ukraine in Turkey and there is also an understanding that Ukraine is a victim, this understanding is based on the opinion that Ukraine is a victim of the breakdown of relations between the US and Russia. So, it is quite challenging to make even the biggest supporters of Ukraine understand that this is Ukraine's war with Russia and that Ukraine is not a bargaining chip in it,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Turkish side continues to maintain warm relations with Russia: “They did not impose sanctions, increased trade between the countries... Turkey also congratulated Putin on his ‘victory’ in the so-called elections that took place in territories that they do not recognize as part of Russia,” he said.

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Comments ( 1)

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Marie
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This is insincere. Erdogan is a puppet of Iran that spits on Israel nearly daily now. It's pure machination for him to be "interested in the Ukrainian Peace Formula." Don't trust this two faced hyena. He's busy killing Kurds and encouraging Hamas while saying "nice doggy" to the west and looking around for a rock to bash us with.

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