They allegedly discussed this last week at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit held in Samarkand (Uzbekistan).
“I met with President V. Putin in Uzbekistan. We discussed matters in great detail. And he really showed that he is ready as soon as possible [karą] to complete. I got this impression, because the situation is developing quite problematically”, noted the Turkish leader.
Asked if Russia should be allowed to keep some of the territory it seized from Ukraine after the invasion, RT Erdogan said: “No, of course not.”
“Of course, if peace is established in Ukraine, the return of the occupied territories will become very important. That is what is expected and what is needed. V. Putin took certain steps. We have taken certain steps,” the Turkish president replied, but did not specify what he meant.
“Seized lands will be returned to Ukraine,” he added. In response to another question about Crimea, RT Erdogan reminded that he has been speaking out against the annexation since 2014: “We asked him [V. Putino] return Crimea to its rightful owners. (…) However, during that time, unfortunately, not a single step forward was taken.”
Responding to the question whether V. Putin will admit that he miscalculated and underestimated the will of the Ukrainian people to fight for their country, RT Erdogan answered: “No leader will want to admit that he made a mistake. No one will say – yes, I made a mistake. It is very difficult for leaders to back down,” said the Turkish leader.
At the same time, the Turkish president emphasized that “no invasion can be justified.”
Asked repeatedly whether Putin should be held responsible for the invasion of Ukraine, RT Erdogan said there was no point in taking sides.
“We are not going to defend any one leader. Instead, we need to find a solution that satisfies all stakeholders,” he replied.
RT Erdogan told US television that Russia and Ukraine had agreed to swap 200 prisoners in what would be one of the biggest swaps in the seven-month war.
RT Erdogan announced this after last week’s talks with Russian President V. Putin on the sidelines of the regional summit in Uzbekistan. He did not provide details about the exchange, calling the people being exchanged “hostages” or specifying how many were on each side.
“By the agreement of the parties, two hundred hostages will be exchanged. I think that an important step forward will be taken,” RT Erdogan said Monday evening on PBS television.
NATO member Turkey is trying to remain neutral in the conflict, supplying Kyiv with combat drones and at the same time avoiding Western sanctions against Moscow.
RT Erdogan has repeatedly tried to bring V. Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to Turkey for ceasefire negotiations.
RT Erdogan said last Friday at the regional summit, which was also attended by Russian President V. Putin, that he wanted the war in Ukraine to end “as soon as possible”.
“We are making efforts to end the conflicts in Ukraine as soon as possible through diplomacy,” RT Erdogan said at a meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in former Soviet Uzbekistan.
RT Erdogan is trying to use his good working relationship with Moscow to convince Putin to hold direct talks with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Turkey about a ceasefire.
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