Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Ankara was ready to provide any necessary support to its Black Sea neighbour after holding emergency talks with his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelenskiy in Istanbul. Mr Erdogan insisted Turkey wanted to find a peaceful resolution to the growing conflict and called for an end to escalating tensions in the volatile Donbass region.
He had earlier discussed the issue in a phone call with Vladimir Putin in which the Russian President accused Ukraine of “dangerous provocative actions”.
Mr Erdogan said: “For the peaceful and secure future of our region, we want both countries to resolve their disagreements as soon as possible through negotiations and with peace, and we are working towards this.”
Mr Zelenskiy said: “Turkey’s support for the restoration of our sovereignty and territorial integrity is extremely important.
“We share common values with Turkey, including human life and support.”
Kiev has raised the alarm over a build-up of Russian forces near the border between Ukraine and Russia, and over a rise in violence along the line of contact separating Ukrainian troops and Russia-backed separatists in Donbass.
Washington warned Russia had amassed more troops on Ukraine’s eastern border than at any time since 2014, when Moscow annexed Crimea from Ukraine and backed the Donbass separatists.
Kremlin defence chiefs deny their troops are a threat but said they would remain in position as long as it sees fit.
READ MORE: British SAS soldiers in Ukraine report spike in ceasefire violations
NATO member Turkey has forged close cooperation with Russia in conflicts in Syria, Libya and Nagorno-Karabakh, as well as in the defence and energy sectors.
But it criticised Russia’s annexation of Crimea seven years afo and expressed support for Ukraine’s territorial integrity.
It also sold military drones to Kiev in 2019.
A major armed confrontation in Donbass ended with a truce agreed in the Belarusian capital Minsk in 2015, whose implementation France and Germany have helped to oversee.
But Sporadic fighting continues despite repeated attempts to implement a ceasefire.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will return to Brussels next week for discussions on Russian activities directed at Ukraine.
Russia’s troop movements have sparked concern in London with Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab voicing Britain’s firm opposition to what he described as Moscow’s campaign to destabilise Ukraine.
Mr Raab said: “Antony Blinken and I agreed Russia must immediately de-escalate the situation and live up to the international commitments that it signed up to at the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe.”