Erdogan urges end to Ukraine tension, offers Turkey’s support

Turkish president says tensions between Kyiv and Moscow over Donbass conflict have to be resolved through dialogue.

Video Transcript

SINEN KOSEOGLU: This is the second meeting in seven months between Ukraine's leader Volodymyr Zolensky and Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Zolensky's visit to Istanbul comes at a crucial time for both nations. But the focus on Saturday was largely on trade, tourism, and defense ties between Ankara and Kyiv.

Ukraine has a Soviet legacy of producing helicopters, aircraft, and cruise missile engines. Turkey's next generation of combat aerial vehicles equipped with Ukrainian engines are expected to be introduced later this year.

RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN: Considering that defense and foreign policies are interconnected, we established a platform with our defense and foreign ministries to increase cooperation between our countries. This cooperation is by no means a threat to any third country.

SINEN KOSEOGLU: But tension has been rising in the Black Sea region in recent weeks. Russia is amassing troops and weapons near its Western border with Ukraine, and the fighting in Eastern Ukraine between government forces and Russian backed separatists and Donbass has escalated. Russian officials have indicated Moscow could intervene to help Russian speaking residents in Eastern Ukraine if the government launches an all out operation there.

VOLODYMYR ZELENSKY: We discussed in detail the issues of security and joint action to challenges in the Black Sea region. It's worth noting that the visions of Kyiv and Ankara coincide, both regarding the threats themselves and the ways of responding to those threats.

SINEN KOSEOGLU: The United States is considering sending two warship to the Black Sea region in the coming days. Despite the US Navy routinely operating in the area, this time the Pentagon believes the deployment will send the message to Moscow that the US is watching the situation closely.

Turkey is in a sensitive position at the moment. As a NATO ally, it is likely to support the alliance in any potential crisis between Ukraine and Washington on one side and Moscow on the other. But that could provoke anger in Russia, a country Ankara depends on for its energy needs. Russia and Turkey have a fragile partnership in Syria and Libya. When it comes to Ukraine, that relationship could be tested in the weeks and months ahead. Sinen Koseoglu, Al Jazeera, Istanbul.