Turkey's Erdogan to visit Ukraine 'within weeks' amid crisis

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan delivers his speech at the Albanian Parliament, in Tirana, Albania, January 17, 2022 REUTERS/Florion Goga

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ANKARA, Jan 19 (Reuters) - Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan will visit Ukraine "within a few weeks", his spokesman was quoted as saying by state media on Wednesday, adding Turkey was in contact with it and Russia on resolving mounting tensions.

The West has voiced fears of a possible invasion of Ukraine by tens of thousands of Russian troops gathered near its border. Russia has denied such plans, while Erdogan said on Tuesday the prospect of an invasion was "unrealistic". read more

Speaking at a panel late on Tuesday, Erdogan's spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said Turkey did not want to see any kind of military conflict between the two countries and was fully committed to Ukraine's territorial integrity.

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"This is why I think we need to understand that serious and real dialogue is more urgent than ever," he said. Erdogan was in contact with both Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and Russian President Vladimir Putin on the matter, he said.

"In fact, (Erdogan) has invited them both, if they want, to come to Turkey and hold a meeting to resolve the problems...between them. Turkey is ready to take up any role it can to ease tensions," Kalin said, according to the state-run Anadolu news agency.

NATO member Turkey has good ties with both Kyiv and Moscow, but opposes Russian policies in Syria and Libya, as well as its annexation of the Crimean peninsula in 2014. While forging cooperation with Russia on defence and energy, Ankara has also sold sophisticated drones to Ukraine, angering Moscow.

In November, Erdogan said Turkey was ready to be a mediator in the crisis, an offer that Kyiv welcomed but Moscow dismissed. Ankara has said sanctions on Russia is not a solution. read more

"We will be in close contact with the Russians to prevent any military offensive that would have grave and irreversible consequences," Kalin said. read more

"In such big, long-term geopolitical problems, there are no fast solutions," said Kalin, who is also Erdogan's foreign policy adviser.

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Reporting by Tuvan Gumrukcu; Editing by Jonathan Spicer

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