Erdogan tells Putin 'ready to take initative' on Ukraine
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told Russia's Vladimir Putin on Thursday that Ankara was ready to do more to end the war in Ukraine after helping arrange a Russian-US prisoner swap.
Erdogan's office said that Putin "thanked" the Turkish leader in a phone call for helping put together Wednesday's exchange of ex-Marine Trevor Reed for the former Russian pilot Konstantin Yaroshenko.
The swap took place in Turkey "under the coordination and supervision of the National Intelligence Organisation," Erdogan's office said in reference to Turkey's MIT intelligence service.
Ankara was now "ready to take the initiative to end the war between Russia and Ukraine and to mediate a path to peace".
The Kremlin confirmed that Putin "expressed his gratitude to the Turkish leader" for helping set up the historic swap of the 30-year-old Texan for the 53-year-old Russian.
Reed was jailed in Russia in 2020 and sentenced to nine years in prison for allegedly attacking police officers while drunk.
Yaroshenko has been serving a 20-year sentence since 2011 after being convicted of drug smuggling.
Turkey's role in the swap highlights the NATO member's ability to maintain an open dialogue with Moscow in the heat of the Ukraine crisis.
US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan on Wednesday also said Washington was "grateful to Turkey for its role in making (Trevor's) safe return possible".
Turkey hosted a meeting between Moscow and Kyiv negotiators in Istanbul and another between Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba in Antalya last month.
Erdogan is now trying to pave the way for an Istanbul summit between Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
He told Putin on Thursday that Turkey wanted "to establish a lasting peace in the region as soon as possible by increasing the momentum gained in the Istanbul talks," his office said.
The Kremlin said only that Putin and Erdogan agreed to hold "future contacts".