Erdogan urges end to Ukraine war ‘as soon as possible’
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has told a regional summit attended by his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin that he wanted the war in Ukraine to end “as soon as possible”.
Mr Erdogan has been trying to use his good working relations with Moscow to try and persuade Mr Putin to hold direct ceasefire talks with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Turkey.
He told a meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in ex-Soviet Uzbekistan that Turkey was making diplomatic efforts to end the war.
“We are making efforts to finalize the conflict in Ukraine through diplomacy as soon as possible,” Mr Erdogan said.
He also echoed Mr. 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,” Mr Erdogan said.
Mr Erdogan was due to hold a private meeting with Mr Putin on the sidelines of the Samarkand summit later today.
NATO member Turkey has been supplying weapons to Ukraine while trying to boost trade with Russia during the war.
Mr Erdogan argues that this “balanced” position is required because of Turkey’s heavy dependence on Russian energy supplies.
Earlier, Mr. Putin told the summit that the SCO should consider staging its own major sporting competition.
He said: “There are good opportunities to intensify sports cooperation with the prospect of holding major sporting events under the auspices of the SCO. To do this, we could think about creating an association of sports organizations under our association.”
Mr Putin made clear in his speech that he wanted the group, which includes the world’s two most populous countries – China and India – to become a significant global counterweight to the American-led West, which has turned its back on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.
A Russian doping scandal, involving revelations of a state-backed system across many sports, following the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, has meant that Russian athletes’ participation at subsequent Olympics has been severely restricted. Those that have competed have only been allowed to do so under a neutral flag.
China, however, has hosted both a Summer and a Winter Olympics since 2008, although both were to some extent overshadowed by war or preparation for war between Russia and former Soviet republics: Georgia in 2008 and Ukraine in 2022.
Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko, a close ally of Mr Putin whose country is an observer at the SCO, told the summit: “We suggest the possibility of holding a complex of sporting competitions within the framework of the SCO: summer events in 2024, winter in 2026.”
These dates broadly coincide with those of the Paris 2024 Summer Olympics and the 2026 Milano-Cortina Winter Olympics – both being held in western Europe.
The SCO is a security bloc established in 2001. It includes China, Russia, India, Pakistan and four post-Soviet Central Asian states, and is in the process of admitting Iran, another state at odds with the West.