NATO member Turkey has managed to maintain good relations with both Russia and Ukraine in recent years, and since last spring Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has attempted to play the role of mediator and friend to both sides in a time of war. It has been a delicate balancing act.
Yet, as Turkey has remained the friendliest of all NATO countries toward Moscow, it has changed how Kyiv sees its relationship with Ankara.
It could even appear that Turkey will finally have to choose sides – even as President Erdogan has called for negotiations to end the fighting and suggested it should be supported by a unilateral ceasefire, which includes a “vision for a fair solution.”
It marked the first time Erdogan had called upon Russia to suspend the fighting without a commitment from Ukraine to do the same. However, it is unlikely that common ground can be found, despite Erdogan’s wishes to see the conflict resolved.
Russian President Vladimir Putin told the Turkish leader in a phone call on Thursday that Russia was open to negotiations with Ukraine, but only if Kyiv would accept the loss of territories claimed by Russia, Reuters reported.
“Vladimir Putin reaffirmed Russia’s openness to a serious dialogue, provided that the Kiev authorities fulfill the well–known and repeatedly voiced requirements and take into account the new territorial realities,” the Kremlin said.
Ukraine Won’t Accept The Demands
Such territorial concessions would likely be a non-starter in any peace negotiations for Kyiv.
It was just last month that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky vowed to retake all territory that Russia had seized, including Crimea.
Russia has lost as much as 40 percent of the territory it initially took in its invasion, which was launched last February 24. The Kremlin has sought to reverse its setbacks, and Kyiv’s counter-offensive has slowed as winter has set in. Russian troops have also failed to retake significant ground, and some of the most recent fighting has been compared to that of the horrible trench warfare on the Western Front during the First World War – including endless artillery duels.
The Kremlin has blamed Western aid for slowing its progress and has even accused the West of dragging out the war. On Thursday, Andrey Bayevsky, a member of the parliament of the Russian-backed “Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR)” also seemed to accuse the West of sending military personnel who are now engaged in the fighting.
He made the dubious claim that “regular” Ukrainian troops used primarily Soviet-made firearms, while the weapons supplied by the West are now manned by “foreigners,” who are working alongside Kyiv’s Special Forces.
“Of course, NATO firearms are also supplied,” Bayevsky, a Lieutenant Colonel of the DPR People’s Militia told TASS on Thursday. “They come primarily to various special force units and sabotage and reconnaissance groups, which are of mixed composition and are mainly manned by the so-called mercenaries.”
Though a number of foreign volunteers have joined the fight in Ukraine, Russia has also relied on mercenaries, private military contractors including the infamous Wagner Group, and a significant number of foreign volunteers to supplement its ranks.
Author Experience and Expertise: A Senior Editor for 19FortyFive, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer. He has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,200 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, politics, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes and Clearance Jobs. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.