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Pro-Kiev bias will not let Turkey serve as mediator between Russia, Ukraine — expert

Andrey Kortunov pointed out that Erdogan was trying to build up from the success that had been achieved regarding the Ukrainian grain export

MOSCOW, August 19. /TASS/. Ankara is pursuing an ambitious aim of serving as a mediator between Moscow and Kiev, but its openly pro-Ukrainian stance will not let it play this role, the General Director of the Russian International Affairs Council, Andrey Kortunov, told TASS in an interview on Friday.

While commenting on the results of the talks between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Ukrainian counterpart Vladimir Zelensky Kornunov pointed out that Ankara was exerting great efforts in attempts to increase its role in the process of resolving the Ukrainian conflict.

"Erdogan is trying to build up from the success that has been achieved regarding the Ukrainian grain export. Turkish diplomacy played a significant role in this respect. I think that Erdogan's ambitions stretch far beyond this deal. Of course, he would like to take advantage of this success in order to achieve progress on a wider range of issues," Kortunov said.

In this regard, one may expect some arrangements for an exchange of prisoners of war between the two parties, international monitoring of the situation at the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant, as well as Turkey’s attempt to host a Russian-Ukrainian summit and achieve a political settlement.

"The latter does not look very realistic at the moment, of course, but nevertheless, it is quite possible that Erdogan does have such hopes," the analyst added.

"Speaking about the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, it will be difficult for Turkey to play the role of an objective and impartial go-between. Turkey’s position is formulated quite clearly: it is pro-Ukrainian, and it has been so at least since 2014. Therefore, it is hard to expect that Erdogan will be equidistant in relation to Putin and Zelensky," Kortunov explained. "Istanbul can be a venue of negotiations. Probably, it is quite convenient. But I'm not sure that Turkey will be able to play the role President Erdogan is talking about."

The expert pointed out that the presidents of Russia and Turkey had developed mutual understanding, and, according to Putin, Erdogan is a reliable partner who fulfills the obligations that he assumes. "But at the same time, one should never forget that between Moscow and Ankara there are not only points of agreement, but also a sphere of diverging interests," Kortunov emphasized.

In his opinion, Turkey's latest initiative to restore Ukraine's infrastructure stems from its intention to give a boost to its own construction industry. However, the analyst drew attention to a number of hindrances in this area. "The question is when it will really be possible to do this and who will pay for it. It is clear that Ukraine's opportunities will be very limited, while the required financial resources will be significant. Turkey will be unable to provide them. Apparently, some additional subsidies will have to be requested from the European Union, while Turkey’s building industry will put the money to use," Kortunov concluded.


Zelensky-Erdogan talks


Zelensky met with Erdogan in Lvov on Thursday. The Ukrainian leader called the talks "very meaningful." He said cooperation in the military, economic and energy sectors was discussed. Representatives from Ankara and Kiev, in the presence of Zelensky and Erdogan, signed a memorandum on Turkey's participation in the restoration of Ukraine's infrastructure.

On the same day, a trilateral meeting was held in Lvov with the participation of UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres. It was decided that the UN would support the mission of IAEA inspectors to the Zaporozhye NPP, if Moscow and Kiev agreed to the visit. According statements by the participating sides, prospects for the settlement of the Ukrainian conflict were discussed. However, as the UN Secretary-General’s office said, negotiations on a cessation of hostilities were still far away.