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Russia and Ukraine Foreign Ministers Agree to Meet in Turkey

Ukrainian FM
Dmytro Kuleba, the foreign minister of Ukraine, will meet with is Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, in Turkey on Thursday. Credit: Facebook/Emine Dzeppar

Ukraine Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba will meet with the longtime Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, in Turkey on Thursday while the Russian invasion of Ukraine is going into its third week.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told the press on Monday that the two diplomats had agreed to meet on the sidelines of a forum that will be held in southern Turkey late this week.

These parleys would be would be the first talks between these two ministers since the Russian invasion began on February 24.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister to meet Russia counterpart as invasion stretches into third week

Cavusoglu tweeted a message on Monday saying “Hope this step will lead to peace and stability,” as he announced that the talks were set to take place concurrent with a previously-scheduled international diplomatic forum in Antalya, in southern Turkey.

Turkey occupies a unique place as it is not only a NATO member but it shares a maritime border with both Russia and Ukraine in the Black Sea. Turkish officials had offered to mediate in the bloody conflict from the outset, since Ankara has fraternal relations with both Moscow and Kyiv.

Related: Russia gives conditions for ceasefire

Turkey stayed on the fence in some respects, calling Russia’s invasion unacceptable while it opposes the raft of sanctions that most nations in the world have lodged against Moscow.

Al Jazeera reports that Cavusoglu stated Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan repeated Turkey’s ongoing offer to host the meeting, which Lavrov subsequently accepted, in a call with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Sunday.

The Turkish FM stated “We especially hope that this meeting is a turning point and … an important step towards peace and stability,” he said, according to Reuters, adding that both ministers had asked for him to also take part in the meeting.

Ukraine Foreign Minister Kuleba had stated on Saturday that he was open to talks with his Russian counterpart — but only if they were “meaningful”.

The news about Thursday’s talks came as Ukrainian and Russian delegations started a third round of talks after the failure of two previous attempts. The second effort to create humanitarian corridors that were meant to allow Ukrainian civilians to escape the beseiged port city of Mariupol came to naught, when Russia bombarded the region once again.

Related: newly proposed humanitarian corridor to lead straight to Russia

The city of 400,000 has undergone a siege for the past several days, with no waer, electricity, heat or sever service as Russia tries to break the will of its people. The international aid group Doctor Without Borders described the situation there as“catastrophic” while last week its mayor told the press “they are destroying us.”

On Sunday, French President Emmanuel Macron also spoke with Putin in his latest attempt to make progress in the conflict. They discussed the safety of Ukraine’s nuclear power plants, according to a Kremlin readout of the call; Putin agreed that it “could be useful” to have a meeting regarding the safety of nuclear power facilities in Ukraine, he recommended that it be held “via teleconference or in a third country.”

The issue of evacuation routes also was raised, with Putin accusing Ukraine of not fulfilling “the agreements reached on such an acute humanitarian issue.”

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