Strategic meeting of Ukrainian, Russian leaders needed for permanent peace: Turkiye

Presidential spokesman believes Putin looking at possibilities of reaching deal to keep Russia in strength, accept peace.

Strategic meeting of Ukrainian, Russian leaders needed for permanent peace: Turkiye

Turkiye's presidential spokesman stressed Saturday the necessity of facilitating a "strategic meeting" between the leaders of Ukraine and Russia to reach a permanent cease-fire. 

Ibrahim Kalin told Al Jazeera news that Turkiye is trying to get "different views and channels together to bring an end to this war."

Citing ongoing "technical" negotiations in Belarus between Ukraine and Russia, Kalin said the "very first political level meeting took place in Antalya, at the Antalya Diplomacy Forum with the participation of our foreign minister. And now what we need is a strategic level meeting between the two leaders, that is between President (Vladimir) Putin and President (Volodymyr) Zelenskyy."

Strategic issues of the territorial and the political-legal status of Donbas on Crimea are likely to be "addressed at a leaders' level," according to Kalin.

"We're hoping that there will be more convergence on these issues and this meeting will take place sooner rather than later because we all want this war to come to an end," he said.

Regarding a possible peace deal anytime soon, Kalin said "it is possible but when and how? That is the main question. It will have to happen at some point. The negotiation teams are getting closer and closer even though there is no final written agreement at this point."

"It's only through that strategic level meeting that a peace deal, a permanent peace, a permanent cease-fire can be established," he noted.

The Turkish official expressed his country's support to Ukraine's "territorial integrity, sovereignty and political unity" as he stated that "there is no way to condone or accept or justify this war."

Meanwhile, he affirmed that "we also have to keep lines of communication open with the Russian side and try to understand their security concerns that led them to act in this way. Even though as I said, that's not justifiable, but we really have to understand for the long run."

Saying that the war has two sides for Russia, Kalin said one is the military side that is ongoing at the ground and the other is the economic side.

"The sanctions side, which is hurting the Russian economy and Russia's ability to finance this war. And in the long run, of course, there will be major consequences. I believe President Putin is debating all these different options looking at different possibilities of reaching some kind of a deal that will keep Russia in a position of strength, but also make it accept a peace deal," said Kalin.

He noted that "overall psychologizing this whole issue will not help," and that "we need to focus on the main issues, strategic issues, political dynamics that have brought this war out. I think we just need to focus on that rather than personalities."

"I think the leaders, both Zelenskyy and Putin, will put aside their personal issues or tendencies because we know that there is really not much of a love affair or any kind of chemistry between the two. That's obvious enough, but I think they will put aside those differences and put the interests of their countries and nations before anything else."

Regarding Turkiye's role in bringing the two leaders together, Kalin said Turkiye is "keeping the trust channel open."

"This trust channel is really important. And I know the two leaders also trust our leader (President Recep Tayyip Erdogan) and I think this service will be of critical significance when the time comes for the two leaders to get together," he added.

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

At least 847 civilians have been killed and 1,399 injured in Ukraine since the beginning of the war, according to the UN, while noting conditions on the ground make it difficult to verify the true number.

More than 3.32 million people have fled to neighboring countries, said the UN refugee agency.

Hüseyin Demir

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