Russian President Vladimir Putin wants to end the war in Ukraine “as soon as possible”, but for this he must return all occupied lands to Ukraine, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in an interview with the American television channel PBS in New York.
“In Uzbekistan (at the SCO summit in Samarkand) I met with President Putin and we had very in-depth talks with him. And he’s actually showing me that he’s ready to end this as soon as possible. That was my impression because the way things are going now is quite problematic,” Erdogan said, quoted by Anadolu Agency.
However, he emphasized that the war cannot end with the annexation of territories of Ukraine to Russia. “If there is peace in Ukraine, of course, the return of the seized lands will become really important. This is expected. This is what we want. Putin took certain steps. We have taken certain steps. The seized lands will be returned to Ukraine,” the Turkish president emphasized.
Erdogan also recalled that since 2014 he had been asking Putin to return Crimea to Ukraine. “They (the Crimean Tatars, note ed.) are also our compatriots. We told them: “If you take this step, you will calm us down, you will calm down Ukraine, you will calm down the Crimean Tatars.” But since then, unfortunately, no steps have been taken in this direction,” Erdogan admitted.
Asked by the host, “Does Putin realize that he made a mistake by underestimating the will of the Ukrainian people for self-defense?” Erdogan replied: “no leader admits his mistake after he has already made it.”
The Turkish president says he has a “stubborn desire” to organize talks between Putin and Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelensky so they can resolve all the differences. “I want to hear everything from them. We haven’t succeeded yet, but I’m not losing hope,” the Turkish leader said.
President Erdoğan told PBS about an agreement reached between Moscow and Kyiv, which agreed to exchange 200 prisoners of war each. Erdogan arrived in New York to participate in the session of the General Assembly of the United Nations, and the press service of the Turkish presidency distributed footage of his walk in Central Park.
— TC Cumhurbaşkanlığı (@tcbestepe) September 18, 2022
At the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit in Samarkand, Putin also met with Chinese President Xi Jinping, who also had “questions and concerns” about the war in Ukraine. The President of the Russian Federation promised to answer all the questions of the Chinese leader.
Putin also met with another important partner – Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “The current era is not the era of wars and I spoke to you about that over the phone,” Modi told Putin, according to Moscow News. “We will do everything we can to stop this as soon as possible. “Unfortunately, the opposing side, the leadership of Ukraine, has announced its withdrawal from the negotiation process,” Putin replied.
Meanwhile, the authorities of the self-proclaimed DPR and LPR decided to synchronize the processes of holding referendums on the question of joining Russia. The occupation authorities of the Kherson region also made a statement on the occasion of the referendum planned for September 20.
Referendums in the occupied territories were postponed indefinitely by the Kremlin due to the successful counteroffensive of Ukraine, which liberated almost all of Kharkiv Oblast, part of Kherson and Luhansk Oblasts.
The Deputy Chairman of the Security Council of the Russian Federation, Dmitry Medvedev, wrote that the referendums “must be held” because they “completely change the vector of development of Russia for decades”. “It is equally important that after the amendments to the constitution of our country, no future leader of Russia, no official will be able to reverse these decisions,” Medvedev said.