Belarus, Turkey 'working toward Russian-Ukrainian talks', says Putin ally Lukashenko
Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko - a key ally of Russia's Vladimir Putin - said Tuesday he is working with Ankara to attempt to arrange another meeting between the leaders of Russia and Ukraine, according to Turkish state media.
Belarus has been a launchpad for Russia's unprovoked invasion of Ukraine and has attempted to play a role in promoting the Kremlin's narrative.
The Belarus dictator praised Turkey's "friendship" with both Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky during a phone call Monday with Turkish President Recep Erdogan, reported state-run Anadolu Agency.
Ankara has been keen to end the war but it has condemned the Russian invasion of Ukraine and suggested Moscow is not serious about peace after it issued a series of "unreasonable" demands on Kyiv to end its onslaught on the country.
Turkey is also a key supplier of Bayraktar drones, which have been a key weapon in Ukraine's fightback against the Russian invaders.
Last week the Belarusian president allowed Russian troops to use Belarusian territory to invade Ukraine from the north, though Lukashenko has since rebuked accusations that his country plans to join Russia’s military occupation.
On Tuesday, he was seen on TV in front of what appeared to be a map of Putin's war plans that indicated Russia aim to invade Moldova, Ukraine's neighbour.
Lukasehenko has also brutally suppressed pro-democracy protests in the country.
Turkey, which has benefited from strong ties with Moscow and Kyiv, has stuck to a delicate diplomatic line during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine but has condemned Moscow's actions.
Ankara has taken steps to challenge Putin, including closing the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles straits to naval ships, and Turkey’s foreign minister has described the situation as a war. Moscow has attempted to portray the war as a "conflict", suggesting Ukraine is responsible for being invaded by Russia.
However, Ankara has not joined the Western economic sanctions, nor has it closed Turkish airspace to Russia.
Moscow invaded Ukraine on Thursday and has struck towns and cities with rockets and artillery, killing hundreds of civilians, according to Ukrainian officials.
Hundreds of thousands have been forced to flee their homes amid the horrific Russian bombardments of civilian areas.