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Zelenskyy, Erdogan discuss returning Ukrainian POWs, Black Sea security in phone call

“Türkiye’s mediation is crucial for the release of Crimean Tatars and all others – adults and children, military and civilians, held in Russian captivity,” Zelenskyy said.
Zelenskyн Erdogan
Zelenskyy meets Erdogan in Lviv in August 2022. Credit: Presidential Office

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy held discussions with Türkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan about Ukraine’s peace formula concerning the return of all prisoners and deported Ukrainian individuals. Zelenskyy detailed the conversation, which took place on 5 January, in his regular evening address.

Zelenskyy emphasized the importance of Türkiye’s mediation in returning Ukrainian children abducted by Russians, along with prisoners and those facing repression in occupied territories, including Crimea.

“I discussed this today with President Erdoğan, emphasizing the return of Ukrainian children abducted by Russians, as well as the return of prisoners of war and those facing repression in the occupied territories, particularly in Crimea. Türkiye’s mediation is crucial for the release of Crimean Tatars and all others – adults and children, military and civilians, held in Russian captivity,” Zelenskyy stated.

The Ukrainian President described the conversation with Erdoğan as “very substantive.” He highlighted the success and importance of the Ukraine-Türkiye projects, noting their significance in strengthening their nations and people. Zelenskyy also highlighted the important role of Ukrainian-Türkish cooperation in regional security, the Black Sea, and global food security.

Expressing gratitude to Erdoğan and Türkiye, Zelenskyy underscored their support for Ukraine’s maritime export corridor, which has facilitated the transport of over 14 million tons of cargo, equivalent to nearly 500 ships. He stressed the corridor’s importance in terms of economy, security, and geopolitics, demonstrating the capacity to restore security in the region despite existing threats. Zelenskyy concluded by highlighting the strength their partnership brings to the entire region.

In December, During a meeting with Levent Bilgen, Türkiye’s new Ambassador to Ukraine, Ukrainian Defense Minister Rustem Umerov proposed that Türkiye join the Maritime Coalition to enhance security in the Black Sea.

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