In an interview with journalists on a trip to the summit of the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, Turkish President Recep Erdogan said that his country wants to become a mediator between Ukraine and Russia, since it is interested in peace in the region.

“Our position on the situation in Ukraine is well known. Turkey is in favor of ensuring peace with an emphasis on the situation of the Crimean Tatars. We have repeatedly discussed this issue with friendly Russia. Contacts continue. We hope that the region will not turn into a war zone and peace will reign. Ankara stands for the positive development of processes. Turkey is ready for mediation. I am ready to discuss this issue with the parties”, he said.

Turkey is ready to contribute to the settlement of tensions in relations between the Russian Federation and Ukraine, added Recep Tayyip Erdogan. According to the Turkish leader, Ankara has established contacts with both the Ukrainian side and Vladimir Putin.

Last month Ukraine for the first time allegedly employed a number of Turkish-made drones in the war zone in the Donbass. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğluthen commented that the drones, known as Bayraktar, should not be referred to as “Turkish” after the purchase by Ukraine, in a likely effort not to provoke Moscow. Ukraine has now 12 such drones.

The famous US political scientist Francis Fukuyama recently commented on Twitter: “Ukraine’s use of Turkish drones could be a complete game-changer, which is why Moscow seems so preoccupied with this issue.”

Historically, Turkey has had a strong interest in the lands which today are part of Ukraine. In the seventeenth century much of what today makes up Western and Southern Ukraine was under the rule of the Ottoman Empire. The Crimean Khanate, until its inclusion into the Russian Empire in 1783, was an Ottoman client state. Crimean Tatars, who speak a language very close to the Turkish spoken in Turkey, are still perceived by Turkey as a brotherly people.