Putin thanks Turkish president for efforts on peace settlement in Ukraine

Moscow remains open to peace talks with Ukraine, not aiming to destroy Ukraine, Russian leader says.

Putin thanks Turkish president for efforts on peace settlement in Ukraine

Russia's President Vladimir Putin thanked his Turkish counterpart on Friday for Ankara's peace efforts in Ukraine.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan played "a significant role" in organizing an exchange of prisoners between Moscow and Kyiv and in the signing of the Ukraine grain deal, Putin said, speaking at a news conference in the Kazakh capital Astana, where the two leaders held a meeting on Thursday.

Erdogan played "a significant role in a number of issues, including exchanges (of war prisoners)," he said, adding that the Turkish president was "personally involved in these issues, for which we are grateful."

"He was an active participant in reaching a deal on the export of grain (from Ukraine). This grain goes to the poorest countries or goes in a minimum amount. We discussed this during negotiations yesterday. He said it is necessary to structure flows so that they go to the poorest countries," said Putin.

He also expressed Moscow's appreciation for Ankara's peace mediation amid the Russia-Ukraine conflict, adding that the UAE also offered its help and worked to reconcile the two warring countries.

Putin underlined that Russia remains open to peace talks with Ukraine, pointing to negotiations held in Istanbul earlier this year, when he said the two countries came close to finding a compromise.

He added that Russia was not aiming to destroy Ukraine and that its "special military operation" was launched to deal with military challenges.

"What is happening today is unpleasant, to put it mildly, but we would have received all the same in worse conditions later. So, we're doing everything right," he stressed.

Putin announced that the partial military mobilization he announced on Sept. 21 would be complete within two weeks and that it would not be followed by any additional mobilization measures.

Over 220,000 people have already reported for their military service under the mobilization, said the Russian president, adding that additional forces were necessary to strengthen the front, over 1,000 kilometers (about 620 miles) long.

On people leaving Russia to avoid being drafted, Putin said each case needed to be assessed separately, without stigmatizing everybody.

He admitted that leaders of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) members were worried about the war in Ukraine, but said that ties between Russia and Central Asian countries were not affected "in any way."

"The situation in Ukraine is a matter of discussion, but it does not affect the nature, quality, depth of relations with Central Asian countries in any way," he stressed.

Putin also noted that there were other confrontations between post-Soviet countries, including those between Armenia and Azerbaijan, as well as Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.

He said he discussed the border disputes between Bishkek and Dushanbe at a meeting with the leaders of those countries on the sidelines of the CIS summit he attended on Friday in Astana.

Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan asked for mediation over tensions, he said, adding that he suggested they draft proposals for a potential resolution between them.

"It is not easy to find common ground in the hot phase, but we managed to agree that all measures will be taken to prevent the resumption of the conflict, all measures will be taken for the return of refugees.

"We agreed that both sides will present a document, their vision of solving problems, and we will present our vision of how we can help," he said.

Asked if he would go to an upcoming G20 summit and whether he intended to meet US President Joe Biden there, Putin said he had yet to make a decision.

On last week's explosion on Russia's Kerch Bridge to Crimea, which it illegally annexed in 2014, Putin said Russian security forces were instructed to strengthen security measures after the blast.

He also said that if reports were true claiming that the explosives were transported to the bridge via the route agreed upon under the grain deal, it would put the future of this humanitarian corridor in doubt.

"However, there is no data confirming these reports," he said.