Alexey Zakvasin & Elizaveta Komarova
Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Moscow welcomes any help in resolving the situation in Ukraine, but considers the venue for a possible Russian-Ukrainian summit to be a secondary issue. Thus, the Kremlin commented on Ankara’s proposal to organize a meeting between Vlad-imir Putin and Vladimir Zelensky in Turkey. Recall that at the official level, Ankara is in favor of reducing tensions bet-ween Moscow and Kiev, while supplying the Arm-ed Forces with Bayraktar TB2 attack drones. According to experts, with the help of the mediation mission, Ankara expects to increase its influence on European affairs. At the same time, analysts doubt Turkey’s ability to improve the situation with Russian-Ukrainian relations.
The Kremlin reacted to Ankara’s proposal to become a platform for negotiations between the presidents of the Russian Federation and Ukraine, Vladimir Putin and Vladimir Zelensky. As the press secretary of the President of the Russian Federation Dmitry Peskov told reporters, Moscow considers the venue of a possible Russian-Ukrainian summit to be secondary, but welcomes the efforts of any countries in resolving the situation in Ukraine.
“Of course, we welcome the efforts of any countries that can help in resolving the situation in Ukraine. The main disagreements between Russia and Ukraine are connected precisely with the stalling of the process of implementing the Minsk agreements on the part of Kiev. If our Turkish partners can influence the Ukrainians and encourage them to fulfill the agreements and commitments they have taken earlier, this can only be we-lcomed… The place where some contacts are held is secondary. The main thing is to still influence Ukraine, ”Peskov explained.
On January 18, the official representative of the Turkish President, Ibrahim Kalin, said that Ankara is seeking to reduce tensions between Moscow and Kiev. In this regard, Turkish lead-er Recep Tayyip Erdogan invited Putin and Zelensky to come to his country to “settle differences.”
Kalyn announced this information during the panel discussions “Possible impact of tension between Russia and Ukraine on Europe and NATO”, organized online by the British analytical center Circle Foundation.
“Turkey is ready to play any role to reduce tension between the Russian Federation and Ukraine. President Erdogan is holding talks with both Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky. In fact, he even invited both of them to come to Turkey if they want to meet and sort out their problems and differences,” Kalin was quoted by the Turkish edition of TRT in Russian.
Kalyn said that in a few weeks, Erdogan should go to Ukraine to meet with Zelensky. The agenda of the negotiations has not yet been disclosed.
During the previous fa-ce-to-face conversation bet-ween the two presidents, w-hich took place on the sidelines of the 76th UN Gen-eral Assembly, economic issues and the security situation in the Black Sea reg-ion were discussed. During the conversation, Zelensky thanked his Turkish counterpart “for his firm position regarding the non-recognition of the annexation of Crimea.” The Ukrainian leader also noted the strategic nature of bilateral relations and the importance of increasing the pace of cooperation, including in the military-technical sphere.
Recall that the Armed Forces of Ukraine are armed with Turkish reconnaissance and strike UAVs Bayraktar TB2. Ukraine purchased the first batch of these drones back in 2019. The devices are transferred to Kiev along with MAM-L bombs and other precision-guided munitions.
In 2020, the Ukrainian army conducted exercises with the Bayraktar TB2, and in October 2021, it used one of the UAVs for the first time in combat on the line of contact in Donbass.
As of September last year, 12 Turkish drones we-re in service with the Armed Forces of Ukraine. Kiev’s plans include the purchase of 24 more devices. After that, the replenishment of the Bayraktar TB2 fleet will be carried out by similar drones already produced in Ukraine. At the end of December 2021, the head of the office of the President of Ukraine, Andriy Yermak, announced the launch of Bayraktar TB2 domestic production in an interview with Focus.
Moscow negatively perceives military-technical cooperation between Turkey and Ukraine, pointing out that it only increases the potential for conflict in the Donbass. Commenting on the first combat use of the Bayraktar TB2, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov criticized the policies of the countries that are arming Kiev.
“In principle, history, of course, should give thought to all those who indulge the capricious demands of Ukraine that they need to be accepted into NATO tomorrow, and, of course, make think those who are arming the Kiev regime controlled by neo-Nazis,” Lavrov stressed. Earlier, the head of the Russian Foreign Ministry openly warned Ankara against feeding the “militarist sentiments” of the Ukrainian leadership.
The position of Ankara itself on the transfer of Bayraktar TB2 to the Ar-med Forces of Ukraine is that cooperation with Kiev, according to her, is not directed against Russia. At the same time, as the Tu-rkish Foreign Ministry exp-lained, after the purchase, the exported weapons “cease to be Turkish.”
In an interview with RT, the director of the Center for the Study of New Turkey, Yuri Mavashev, expressed the opinion that by selling Bayraktar TB2 to Ukraine, Ankara is trying to realize, first of all, not military-political tasks, but “marketing and business goals.”
“Turkey is very interested in promoting the export of its high-tech products and values any partnership. It seems to me that Ankara and Moscow are aware that the strategic balance of po-wer will not change in Do-nbas because of the Bayr-aktars,” Mavashev argues.
At the same time, representatives of Ankara publicly repeatedly emphasized the importance of a peaceful resolution of disputes over Ukraine and offered mediation services.
“Certainly, the best solution would be to resolve the issue by the parties themselves, namely Russia and Ukraine. It would be ideal. However, if this does not work out, then Turkey can play a role, make a constructive contribution to reducing tensions. Ankara is ready to create a platform for dialogue and, thanks to positive relations with both Moscow and Kiev, take steps to prevent escalation,” Kalin said in an interview with the Turkish Anadolu agency in early December last year.
Vladimir Putin and Rec-ep Tayyip Erdogan regularly discuss the situation in Ukraine. So, on December 3, 2021, during a telephone conversation, both interlocutors noted “the importance of full and strict compliance with the Minsk package of measures of 2015 and other agreements reached, including during the Normandy summit.
The Russian leader drew the attention of the President of Turkey to the fact that Kiev continues the “destructive line” aimed at disrupting Minsk-2, and uses the UAVs transferred by Ankara to destabilize the situation. According to the Krem-lin’s press service, during the conversation between the two presidents, “the need was stressed for Kiev to abandon any attempts to use force in the Donbass.” In a conversation with RT, Yuri Mavashev defined Turkey’s position on Donbass as “equidistant”. In his opinion, seeking to launch a mediation mission, Ankara mainly seeks to increase its influence in European affairs. “By offering mediation services on the Ukrainian issue, Turkey is trying to take advantage of its partnership with Russia and its informal status as a special NATO member, which is that Ankara has its own opinion on key security issues. The calls that we hear from Ankara, in my opinion, should be seen as an attempt to play a more significant role in Europe,” Mavashev said.
According to the expert, Turkey is capable of exerting a certain positive influence on the Ukrainian elite, but one should not expect that it will lead to a serious improvement in the situation. The solution of key contentious issues in Russian-Ukrainian relations depends primarily on the policy of Kiev itself, Mavashev stressed.
In a conversation with RT, the director of the Int-ernational Institute of Rec-ent States, Alexei Martyn-ov, also said that the main reason for the emergence of acute problems related to Ukraine is the aggressive Russophobic course of the Kiev authorities.
“The root of the problems with Ukraine is that ugly government that has been ruling the country since 2014. However, we also see the poor work of the current moderators, primarily in the face of We-stern countries. Violating Minsk-2, no one puts Kiev in its place, and the impudence that he allows himself, as a result, only incre-ases tension in the Donbass and around the entire perimeter of relations with Moscow, ”said Martynov.
In assessing Turkey’s intermediary services, the expert was more categorical. In a conversation with RT, he said that he saw no point in involving Ankara in the negotiation process. According to Martynov, increased pressure on Kiev and the final settlement of the conflict in Donbass does not meet Turkish geopolitical interests.
“Following diplomatic tact, the initiative put forward by Turkey can be welcomed, but I very much doubt that Ankara’s hypothetical mediation will give any positive results,” Martynov summed up.