In a telephone conversation with Russian counterpart Sergei Shoigu, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar made it clear that Ankara expects Moscow’s support for the safe return of Turkish merchant ships stranded in Russian ports due to the current situation in Ukraine.
According to a statement from the ministry he heads, the conversation between Akar and Shoigu focused on developments in Ukraine. It said that “negotiations between Russia and Ukraine will make a significant contribution to establishing peace, stability and improving the humanitarian situation so that a lasting solution is possible.”
Stressing the importance of declaring a ceasefire throughout Ukraine in order to restore peace and stability without further loss of human life, the Turkish minister said efforts to open humanitarian corridors for the evacuation of civilians were welcome.
However, he once again turned his attention to the Turkish ships waiting at the ports. In late February, Turkey stopped the passage of warships through the Bosphorus and Dardanelles straits, which connect the Marmara and Aegean Seas with the Black Sea. In doing so, it blocked four Russian warships in the Mediterranean awaiting passage.
Although he has a good relationship with Vladimir Putin, Erdogan has condemned the Russian attack on Ukraine and has offered several times to mediate between the parties.