September 25, 2022

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Putin is ready to end the war in Ukraine, an important step will be taken”

Putin is ready to end the war in Ukraine, an important step will be taken”

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he believed Russian leader Vladimir Putin was seeking to end the war he started in Ukraine, and that a “significant step” would be taken.

According to Erdogan, he had “very in-depth discussions” with Putin at a summit in Uzbekistan last week.

Two months after Russian forces took control of the entire eastern region of Lugansk, Ukraine regained part of the territory.

In a new interview with US TV channel PBS, the Turkish leader said he believed the Russian president wanted a quick end to the war.

“He actually shows me that he is ready to end this as soon as possible,” Erdogan said. “That was my impression, because the way things are going right now is quite problematic.”

Erdogan also said 200 “hostages” would soon be exchanged between the two sides. He gave no further details on who would be included in the prisoner swap.

The Turkish leader said things were “quite problematic” for Russia.

President Erdogan attempted to mediate between Ukraine and Russia during the war, refusing to take sides while a member of NATO.

He helped the UN negotiate a resumption of grain exports from Ukraine and said he was trying to arrange direct ceasefire talks between the two countries.

Last week, Putin said he was ready to meet Ukraine’s president, but Zelensky was not. He told the Indian Prime Minister that he wanted to end the fighting “as soon as possible”.

However, Russia has given no indication that it is ready to accept Kyiv’s demands for full withdrawal from Ukrainian territory, including areas seized in 2014.

Crimea was annexed by Russia at the time, and now ex-President Dmitry Medvedev has said Russian-backed separatists should hold ‘referendums’ on the annexation of Luhansk and Donetsk territories – known under the name of Donbass.

President Putin has repeatedly identified the “liberation” of Ukraine’s Donbass region as Russia’s main goal. “Referendums in Donbass are essential,” said Medvedev, who is now deputy head of Russia’s Security Council.

Asked by PBS whether Russia should be allowed to retain any territory it has taken since February, and whether that should be part of a peace deal, Erdogan said, “No, and definitely not.”

He also said that “the lands that have been invaded will be returned to Ukraine”. It was unclear whether it also included territory held by Russian-backed separatists since 2014.

Asked if Russia should be allowed to keep Crimea, annexed in 2014 – Erdogan said that since 2014 Turkey had discussed with Putin returning the peninsula ‘to its rightful owners’ but no progress had been realized.

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