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Turkey Offers To Mediate Between Ukraine, Russia

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (file photo)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says his country is ready to act as a mediator between Ukraine and Russia, even with strained relations between Ankara and Moscow over the sale of armed drones to Kyiv earlier this year.

Speaking to reporters on a flight from Turkmenistan, Erdogan was quoted on November 29 by broadcaster NTV as saying that Ankara wanted stability and peace in the Black Sea region, adding that he had had frequent discussions about the issue with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin.

"Whether it is as a mediator or speaking to them about the issue, by holding these talks with Ukraine and Mr. Putin, God willing, we want to play a part in the solution of this," he said.

Neither Russian nor Ukrainian officials immediately commented on Erdogan's remarks.

NATO-member Turkey has good ties with both Kyiv and Moscow, but it has criticized Moscow's seizure of Ukraine's Crimea Peninsula in March 2014 and voiced support for Ukraine's territorial integrity in the face of an ongoing separatist conflict in the country's east that has killed more than 13,200 people since April 2014.

Last month, the Ukrainian military released footage of what it said was a Turkish-supplied drone destroying a position held by the Mocow-backed separatists.

Moscow said the use of drones could "destabilize the situation" in eastern Ukraine, while Ankara said it couldn't be blamed for Kyiv's use of the aircraft.

Erdogan's latest comments come amid rising tensions between Russia and Ukraine following reports of a large Russian military buildup near the Ukrainian border that has raised fears of a possible invasion.

On November 26, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said the country's intelligence service had uncovered plans to stage a coup involving people from Russia that could occur this week. The Kremlin has denied any role in any coup plot.

Media outlets including The New York Times and Bloomberg have cited U.S. officials as warning that Russia might attack this winter, with some saying a potential invasion could be "on a scale far greater" than in 2014, when Russia seized Crimea.

With reporting by Reuters, TASS, and NTV