Turkey calls Russia, Ukraine for restraint amid escalation

Turkey has called Russia and Ukraine for restraint and dialogue amid ongoing escalation between the two neighbors on the eve of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's visit to Kyiv on Feb. 3.

"We, as Turkey, call all the parties for calmness, coordination, cooperation and dialogue to avoid escalation," Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said at a meeting with the top military brass in Ankara on late Jan. 31. Akar warned about the danger of the uncontrolled escalation between Ukraine and Russia and urged stability and peace in the world and the region.

Russia and Ukraine have long been at odds over the Donbass region of the latter where a conflict between separatist ethnic Russians and the regime is continuing. Russia has deployed more than 100,000 troops on the border as it blames NATO and Western organizations for provoking Ukraine.

Akar's messages came as Erdoğan is set to pay a visit to Ukraine on Feb. 3 and host Russian President Vladimir Putin in the coming period. Erdoğan has offered Turkey's mediation between the two countries for a peaceful solution to the conflict.

"Our stance is very clear. We have long been voicing for years that we are in favor of the countries bordering the Black Sea, living in peace, dialogue, tranquility and prosperity within the framework of the Montreux regime," he said, citing the 1936-date Montreux Convention that regulates the use of Turkish straits.

The status quo provided by the Montreux Convention is to the advantage of all the parties, and Turkey will never quit this understanding, the defense minister stated.

"As Turkey, we have fulfilled our obligations for dialogue in the Black Sea, and we continue to do so. We have a dialogue with Russia on one side and Ukraine on the other. In addition, we...

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