Ukraine-Russia Meeting in Turkey Ends in Deadlock   

Ukrainian and Russian foreign ministers met at a Turkish Mediterranean Sea resort Thursday but failed to end the fighting in Ukraine, with mutual recriminations. Both ministers indicated the diplomatic door remained open.

Speaking at a news conference after the meeting in Antalya, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba criticized what he called Russia’s lack of sincerity.

Kuleba said, “We cannot stop the war if the country that started the aggression has no desire to do so. We are ready for diplomacy but ready to defend ourselves.”

At his news conference, his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, accused Ukraine of not being serious in seeking a diplomatic solution.

In a possible gesture to Kyiv, however, Lavrov said Russian President Vladimir Putin could be ready to hold a summit with his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelenskyy. Since the start of Russian-Ukrainian tensions, Zelenskyy has called for direct talks with Putin.

Lavrov also warned the West it was playing a dangerous game by arming Ukraine with sophisticated weapons, including surface-to-air missiles.

He said, “Therefore the threat is set to last for years. There will be risks for civil aviation, and not only in the Ukrainian sky. They [the risks] can spread across Europe.”

The Ukrainian foreign minister said he received no response to proposals to help mitigate the humanitarian crisis, including a 24-hour cease-fire and the opening of a corridor to allow hundreds of thousands of civilians to escape the besieged city of Mariupol.

In addition, Lavrov rejected Kviv’s accusations that Russian forces attacked a maternity hospital in Mariupol, claiming Ukrainian forces had taken it over and that there were no patients using the building.

Lavrov said, “About the maternity hospital, this is not the first time we have seen pathetic cries about the so-called atrocities committed by the Russian armed forces.”

Moscow is facing international condemnation over the hospital attack.

Given the apparent lack of progress, it remained unclear whether the Ukrainian and Russian foreign ministers agreed to meet again. The Turkish foreign minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, who hosted Thursday’s talks, would not comment on future gatherings, other than to say Thursday’s meeting was held in a civil fashion.

Ankara, which has good ties with Kyiv and Moscow, has sought a mediating role since the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last month. Columnist Sezin Oney of the Turkish news portal PolitikYol said Ankara saw the conflict as an opportunity.

“Ukraine is an important ground for Turkey now; Turkey is using its own strategic junctures to expand its power,” Oney said. “So, this is Turkey’s new power play as it aspires to become a bigger player on the world stage.”

But given the lack of progress Thursday, it remained unclear whether Ankara has a further diplomatic role to play.

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