'Hopes for cease-fire in Russia-Ukraine war increased a bit more'

Turkish foreign minister says there is possibility for Russia, Ukraine leaders to meet if they agree on issues in which Ankara sees rapprochement.

'Hopes for cease-fire in Russia-Ukraine war increased a bit more'

As part of Turkiye's ongoing diplomatic efforts to reach permanent peace in the Russia-Ukraine war, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu paid a visit to Ukraine's western Lviv city on Thursday.

Speaking after a closed-door meeting, Turkiye’s foreign minister thanked his Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba for having him in such "difficult days."

Cavusoglu said hopes for a cease-fire in the Russia-Ukraine war increased a bit more after visits to both Russia and Ukraine.

Saying that there is a possibility for Russian and Ukrainian leaders to meet if they agree on issues in which Ankara sees rapprochement, Cavusoglu said Ukraine offered Turkiye to be one of guarantors regarding the security dimension of a possible deal, adding that Russia has no objection.

"We held our strategic planning meeting here in Lviv on Oct. 8 (2021). We wanted to come to Lviv, especially during these difficult days, to show our support to our strategic partner Ukraine,” he said.

He stressed that thousands of civilians have died since the war began on Feb. 24, while adding that more than 3 million innocent people had to flee the country.

Cavusoglu also added that he was devastated over seeing many people waiting on the road and at border gates while on his way to Lviv via Poland.

Emphasizing that the war must end as soon as possible, Cavusoglu once again noted that the bloodshed, the tears must be stopped, while adding that Turkiye has "been intensifying efforts in this direction since the first day."

"With this thought, we brought my friend Kuleba and Russian Foreign Minister (Sergey) Lavrov together in Antalya. I would like to thank Kuleba for his constructive approach at that meeting," he said.

A high-level meeting between Lavrov and Kuleba was hosted by Cavusoglu in the Antalya last week. The talks were the first high-level interaction between Russia and Ukraine since the war began on Feb. 24.

Turkish, Russian presidents to talk over phone

Citing the ongoing Belarusian negotiations, Cavusoglu further affirmed Turkiye’s ongoing efforts for establishing peace and recalled his visit to Moscow on Wednesday.

"I have informed Kuleba today about the matters addressed and impressions gained in Moscow," Cavusoglu said.

Saying that Turkiye’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan spoke to Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Wednesday on the phone, Cavusoglu said: “Today (on Thursday) at 16.00 Turkish time (1300GMT), he (Erdogan) will hold a phone conversation with Russian President (Vladimir) Putin.”

He emphasized Turkiye’s full support to Ukraine’s territorial integrity, independence, and sovereignty, as he said the “entire world sees the struggle of Ukraine and the Ukrainian people against this war."

Turkiye’s support to Ukraine is a natural result of its principled policy, alliance, and strategic partnership, he added.

As a country in dialogue with both Ukraine and Russia, Turkiye is making sincere efforts to stop the war, according to the Turkish minister, as he said that the country has evacuated its citizens amid war and “received a lot of support from the Ukrainian administration.”

'One-on-one meeting'

Prior to a closed-door meeting, Kuleba voiced appreciation over Turkiye's active role in building peace between the two warring countries.

While expressing regrets over holding the meeting under current circumstances, Kuleba told his Turkish counterpart that his commitment, courage, and personal visit to Lviv prove that Turkiye is an active player and that "it is ready to invest in bringing peace" to the Ukraine-Russia relations.

Kuleba noted that he has held close contact with Cavusoglu even prior to the Turkish minister's visit to the Russian capital Moscow on Wednesday, and added that they had discussed over the phone ways to put an end to the war.

Ukraine and its people appreciate the "principled position" that Turkiye has taken since the eruption of the war, he added.

"We are looking forward to fruitful discussion, and discuss next steps we can take in order to achieve peace," Kuleba added.

For his part, Turkiye's Cavusoglu stressed the necessity of ending the "bloodshed" and reaffirmed his country's "principled stance on this war."

"I wanted to come here, to Lviv, to show our (Turkiye's) support and solidarity with you and the Ukrainian people," the Turkish minister said.

He also voiced hopes to visit the city again in summer with his family.

Citing Erdogan's diplomatic efforts as well as his and other high-level officials' efforts to end the war, Cavusoglu voiced his desire to talk about peace and stability in Ukraine and the region.

The Russia-Ukraine war, which started on Feb. 24, has drawn international condemnation, led to financial restrictions on Moscow, and spurred an exodus of global firms from Russia.

At least 726 civilians have been killed and 1,174 injured in Ukraine since the beginning of the war, according to the UN, while noting that conditions on the ground make it difficult to verify the true number.

More than 3.1 million people have also fled to neighboring countries, said the UN refugee agency.