Turkish foreign minister urges calm amid Russia-Ukraine tensions
Turkey in touch with both sides, 'advising calm and de-escalation,' says Mevlut Cavusoglu
Turkey's foreign minister on Wednesday urged "calm and de-escalation" amid flaring tensions between Russia and neighboring Ukraine.
"We have been in touch with both sides and we advise calm and de-escalation," Mevlut Cavusoglu told reporters ahead of the second day of a NATO foreign ministers' meeting in Latvia's capital Riga.
Cavusoglu said he had spoken to the foreign ministers of Russia and Ukraine, Sergey Lavrov and Dmytro Kuleba, respectively.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will hold talks with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on Friday, he added.
Cavusoglu said he would meet with Kuleba again during the NATO meeting on Wednesday before more talks with him, as well as with Lavrov, during the two-day 28th Ministerial Council Meeting of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) starting on Thursday.
"So we’re in touch with both sides and advising calm and de-escalation," he said.
When asked about possible international sanctions on Russia, Cavusoglu said: "Turkey does not believe that sanctions will resolve the problems."
Asserting that sanctions did not work in the past, Cavusoglu said: "Instead of sanctions ... we should have meaningful deterrence."
"Turkey believes in the right balance between deterrence and dialogue. Nobody can help Ukraine or any other country through sanctions alone."
When asked about possible NATO membership for Ukraine, Cavusoglu said: "Turkey is for enlargement and Turkey is for the membership of other neighboring countries."
He added: "We and our President Recep Tayyip Erdogan have been emphasizing this during the summits and ministerial meetings of NATO."
Cavusoglu's remarks came after NATO's top official said on Tuesday that Russia would face serious consequences if it uses force against Ukraine.
"We call on Russia to be transparent, de-escalate and reduce tensions," Jens Stoltenberg told a news conference after day one of the NATO foreign ministers' conference.
Longstanding tensions over Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014 have been exacerbated by Russian-backed separatists in the eastern border region of Donbas, along with a Russian military buildup decried by the West.
Amid the buildup, Russia has accused Ukraine of provocations, a charge Kyiv denies.
Day two of the NATO meeting began with a morning session of top diplomats focusing on Russia and its buildup near the Ukrainian border.
The session included Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmitri Kuleba and Georgian Foreign Minister David Zalkaliani.
After a session on Afghanistan, the sides are due to discuss the situation in the Western Balkans with the participation of the foreign ministers of Finland and Sweden, as well as EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell.
Meanwhile, the Turkish foreign minister also met with his Latvian counterpart Edgars Rinkevics.
“Started our day in Riga meeting w/FM @edgarsrinkevics of Latvia. Confirmed our will to develop our political & economic cooperation,” Cavusoglu wrote on Twitter.