Turkey to invite Russian and Ukrainian presidents to Istanbul for talks
- Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan wants Russian and Ukrainian heads to have talks in Istanbul
- Erdogan hopes to hold calls with Russia's Vladimir Putin and Ukraine's Volodymyr Zelensky
- Turkey is uniquely placed as a diplomatic middle ground for Russia and Ukraine's talks
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan expects to hold phone calls with Russian and Ukrainian heads Vladimir Putin and Volodymyr Zelensky within the next 48 hours to invite them to Istanbul to engage in direct talks about bringing the war to an end.
Erdogan said, "The result is positive; it's not exactly as we wanted, but it will be better. We're not without hope", adding, "I hope that they accept our invitation, and we can bring them together in Istanbul", as per CNN.
Turkey is placed uniquely to serve as a diplomatic middle ground for the countries that have been warring since Putin sent troops in on February 24.
It is a NATO member but shares maritime boundaries with Russia and Ukraine in the Black Sea. Thus far, Turkey has kept trade relations open with Russia and has not sanctioned the nation, but has condemned the war in Ukraine.
Previous diplomatic talks between the nations have also taken place there, but this would be the first time the heads of states could possibly meet.
Ukraine, at a point, had been willing to engage in peace talks with Russia with Zelensky suggesting a "compromise" for all. However, continued Russian attacks, and the unearthing of wartime atrocities like the Bucha mass graves stymied any such chances. Besides, Putin reportedly told Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich, who's also been leading talks between Ukraine and Russia, that he would "thrash" Ukraine's peace offers.
Kyiv remained open to talks but clamped down on Mariupol being a topic, eager to hold on to the Azov Sea port city. Currently, Putin has announced the liberation of Mariupol, but reports suggest that a last batch of Ukrainians remain in the Azovstal steel plant in the city.
At the same time, Moscow has rejected the Easter truce that Ukraine extended. Russia's second wave of attack on the neighbouring country comes after Aleksander Dvornikov, or the Butcher of Syria was placed in charge of operations.
Known for his use of chemical weapons and indiscriminate airstrikes while helping Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Dvornikov's arrival signalled a change in Moscow's tactics, which had so far found ground movement in Ukraine to be slow.
Troops which were previously in the north and western parts of the country were ordered to retreat and regroup, now that Russia has launched an offensive from the east through the Donbas region. With Mariupol reportedly in Russian control, there could be a push from the south as well to circle off and capture a larger area to the east of Ukraine.
Chechen chief Ramzan Kadyrov, however, has stated that Russia intends to capture all Ukrainian cities including Kyiv, which would need troops entering from the east and south to move towards the north and west.