Erdogan urges end to war in Ukraine ‘as soon as possible’

SAMARKAND (AFP): Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday told a regional summit attended by Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin that he wanted the war in Ukraine to end “as soon as possible”.

Erdogan has been trying to use his good working relations with Moscow to try and persuade Putin to hold direct ceasefire talks with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Turkey.

He told a meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation in ex-Soviet Uzbekistan that Turkey was making diplomatic efforts to end the war.

“We are making efforts to finalise the conflict in Ukraine through diplomacy as soon as possible,” Erdogan said.

Erdogan also echoed Putin’s concern that grain shipped out of Ukraine under a UN and Turkish-brokered agreement was not reaching enough developing countries.

“We are making sincere efforts to deliver the grain to those who need it most, especially our brothers and sisters in Africa,” Erdogan said.

Erdogan was due to hold a private meeting with Putin on the sidelines of the Samarkand summit later Friday.

NATO member Turkey has been supplying weapons to Ukraine while trying to boost trade with Russia during the war.

Erdogan argues that this “balanced” position is required because of Turkey’s heavy dependence on Russian energy supplies.