Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is heading towards Kiev for talks with his counterpart Volodymyr Zelenskyy after presenting Ankara as a mediator in the Ukrainian-Russian crisis.
Erdogan’s trip on Thursday marks the latest in a series of visits to Ukraine by NATO leaders in recent days.
Turkey, which has interests with both Ukraine and Russia, has so far played a mediating role in the crisis. While Ankara is involved with Moscow in several global conflicts, it also sells arms to Ukraine.
Western powers still fear a Russian invasion is possible given the buildup of more than 100,000 troops on the Ukrainian border, but Moscow denies having plans of attack.
He instead accused the United States and the Washington-led NATO alliance of undermining regional security and demanded sweeping guarantees from the West.
The United States has dismissed Moscow’s main proposals – that NATO cease its activities in Eastern Europe and never allow the former Soviet state to become a member – as non-participants.
And further angering the Kremlin on Wednesday, Washington announced it would deploy troops to Eastern Europe to “deter and defend against aggression.”
Here are all the latest updates:
Turkish president calls for ‘restraint’ on all sides
Erdogan said before leaving for Kyiv that Ankara hopes to end “any form of confrontation between Russia and Ukraine”.
“We support the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine,” the Turkish leader told reporters in the country’s capital. “As countries in the Black Sea region, we advocate … a peaceful resolution … and call on all parties to exercise restraint.”
Read here what analysts have to say about Turkey’s mediating role.
“We support [Ukraine’s] territorial integrity and sovereignty”.
Turkish President Erdogan calls on all parties to refrain from confrontation to reach a peaceful resolution to the standoff between Ukraine and Russia pic.twitter.com/9n7a8MEsjU
— TRT World (@trtworld) February 3, 2022
Omar criticizes the sanctions bill
US Congresswoman Ilhan Omar has condemned a bill that would allow Washington to impose sweeping economic sanctions on Russia if it takes aggressive action against Ukraine and supplies arms to Kiev.
“The proposed legislative solution to this crisis escalates the conflict without effectively deterring it,” Omar said in a statement posted on his website.
“I have no illusions about the horrors an invasion will unleash, or that it is Russia that is responsible for bringing us to the brink… but I cannot in good conscience support a project bill that places militarism and economic warfare above the urgent needs of both. Ukrainian and Russian civilians,” she added.
The full text of the so-called 2022 Law on Defense of the Sovereignty of Ukraine can be accessed here.
NGO warns escalation would lead to dire humanitarian consequences
The Norwegian Refugee Council says up to two million people living on both sides of the contact line in eastern Ukraine, where Kyiv has been battling Russian-backed separatists since early 2014, will be further more at risk of violence and displacement if the conflict escalates.
“Active hostilities would significantly worsen the existing humanitarian situation, where needs are already high after years of violence,” the NGO said in a statement, adding that it called on all parties to the conflict to “prioritize the de-escalation and to refrain from all hostilities”.
“It would devastate already damaged civilian infrastructure, further restrict people’s movements, block access to communities in need and disrupt essential public services such as water, electricity, transport and banks. It would also trigger further mass displacement, as millions of people in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions would be at risk.
“The human suffering of a new conflict would be limitless. It would lead to mass civilian casualties and displacement, as well as increased humanitarian needs,” warned @NRC_Egeland during a visit to #Ukraine this week. https://t.co/CdQzt2RH5g
— NRC (@NRC_Norway) February 3, 2022
Biden and Macron review coordinated response to Russia
US President Joe Biden and his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron have reviewed the coordination of diplomatic efforts and plans to impose economic costs on Moscow in the event of an invasion of Ukraine, according to the White House.
“President Biden and President Macron have agreed that their teams will remain in close contact, including in consultation with NATO allies and the EU. [European Union] partners, on our coordinated and comprehensive approach to managing these issues,” the White House said in a reading of Wednesday’s appeal.