Russian President Vladimir Putin wants Moscow’s grueling war in Ukraine to end “as soon as possible,” Turkey’s leader said, as the almost 19-month-old conflict shows no signs of finishing.
“It’s quite obvious that this war is going to last a long time,” Recep Tayyip Erdoğan told PBS News.
Ankara has acted as a negotiator between Moscow and Kyiv since the outbreak of all-out war in Ukraine in February 2022. Turkey was heavily involved in the United Nations-brokered Black Sea grain deal, which had allowed Ukraine to export grain from its southern ports and stave off fears of a global food shortage. Russia refused to renew this deal in July.
Turkey has sent military aid to Ukraine, including unmanned aerial vehicles. But Ankara has also maintained economic ties with Russia and avoided leveling the same amount of sanctions against the Kremlin as other NATO countries over the war.
“Russia happens to be one of my closest neighbors,” Erdoğan said, later adding that Moscow is as “equally reliable” as Western countries. “At this moment in time, I trust Russia just as much as I trust the West,” he told PBS.
The Russian leader “is actually on the side of ending this war as soon as possible,” Erdoğan continued.
Newsweek has reached out to the Kremlin for comment via email.
Analysts have suggested that the Russia expected to finish off its invasion of Ukraine within a week and a half, making sweeping gains in the initial days of the invasion that started on February 24, 2022.
But this failed to materialize in the face of what experts called Ukrainian defiance that took the Kremlin by surprise. Western analyses have also suggested that Moscow made a number of crucial mistakes in the early phases, including how it used its tank crews, sustaining heavy losses of experienced personnel.
Russia currently controls about one-fifth of Ukraine’s internationally recognized territory. Kyiv’s ongoing counteroffensive, which began in early June, has rolled back some Russian positions in the annexed south and east of the war-torn country, but progress has been slower than Ukraine, and its supporters, had hoped.
In the past week, Ukraine said it had reclaimed two Donetsk villages close to the devastated eastern city of Bakhmut, which Russia captured in May. Ukraine also said in early September it was between the first and second line of Russian defenses around Robotyne, a town in the southern Zaporizhzhia region that had seen heavy fighting.