Turkish presidential spokesperson Ibrahim Kalin told CNN’s Becky Anderson in an interview Sunday that Russia’s demands to recognize the annexation of Crimea and the independence of the Donbas region is “very maximalist” and “not realistic”.
“These are the red lines for the Ukrainians in the Crimea and Donbas, and rightly so, because they pertain directly to Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty. We have not recognized the annexation of Crimea as, like the rest of the world, even China has not recognized the annexation of Crimea …They [the Russians] should really come up with some other ideas,” he told CNN on the sidelines of the Doha Forum.
Turkey has been offering to mediate between Russia and Ukraine and has hosted several meetings, including a meeting between Ukrainian and Russian Foreign Ministers on March 10. The next round of talks between the two sides will be held in the Turkish city of Istanbul on Tuesday.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan relayed a message to Moscow urging the negotiating teams to agree on the final sticking points in order to transition to a meeting at the leadership level between President Volodymyr Zelensky and President Vladimir Putin, Kalin told CNN.
“President Zelensky is ready to meet President Putin, it’s President Putin who has said no so far. And our president has said, I'm ready to facilitate bringing the two of you together, in Turkey or somewhere else… We believe that it's only through that meeting, that this war will come to an end,” he added.
The spokesperson emphasized that President Erdogan is keeping his line of communication open with both his Russian and Ukrainian counterparts to help achieve to end the war, especially with Russia. When asked if President Putin listens to Erdoğan, Kalin said the two have a “long-standing relationship.”
“Certainly President Putin is listening to President Erdoğan and to his advice and to his ideas and suggestions. You can understand from their point of view that they don't trust most of the NATO countries, they don't want to talk to them anymore, right or wrong. But the reality is that someone has to talk to the Russian side, someone whom the Russians can also trust. Otherwise, this war can go on for months, for years, and the world cannot afford another prolonged war like that, and certainly, we cannot afford another Cold War.“