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War in Ukraine can't be ended by ignoring Russia - Erdogan aide

·2-min read
Combat engineers of pro-Russian troops demine explosives in Donetsk

By Orhan Coskun

ANKARA (Reuters) - A top aide to Turkey's president said on Friday the international community cannot end the war in Ukraine by ignoring Moscow, as Tayyip Erdogan headed to Russia to meet his counterpart Vladimir Putin.

The meeting, less than three weeks since they held talks in Tehran, comes after Turkey helped broker a deal to resume Ukraine's Black Sea grain exports which were blocked by Russia's invasion.

Turkish presidential communications director Fahrettin Altun said the agreement attested to the success of NATO member Turkey's efforts and the direct diplomacy between the two leaders, while criticising the role played by other countries.

"The truth is that some of our friends do not want the war to end. They are shedding crocodile tears," Altun told Reuters, saying some were actively trying to undermine Turkey's efforts without specifying who.

"The international community cannot end the war in Ukraine by ignoring Russia. Diplomacy and peace must prevail," he said.

Erdogan was scheduled to meet Putin on Friday afternoon before a meeting between delegations of the two countries.

Turkey has relatively good relations with both Ukraine and Russia. But while it has criticised the invasion and provided Ukraine with arms, it has broken with Western allies by not imposing sanctions on Russia.

"We are looking to harness Turkey's relationships with Russia and Ukraine to work toward a mutually acceptable solution," Altun said

While there is close cooperation with Russia on energy supplies, there has also been military competition between them in Syria, Libya and Azerbaijan.

Friday's talks between Erdogan and Putin were also likely to deal with Turkey's threat to launch new military operations in Syria to extend 30-km (20-mile) deep "safe zones" on the border.

(Reporting by Orhan Coskun; Writing by Daren Butler; Editing by Dominic Evans)

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