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The strained situation in Ukraine continues to intensify as the involved parties continue to make controversial statements day by day. There is no war, yet it is impossible to speak of peace either. Currently, diplomatic channels remain open as foreign policymakers have still managed to further talks over the crisis. Moscow’s military build-up near Ukraine, however, remains both the object and a concrete obstacle to negotiations.
From NATO to the European Union, there are countless calls for related actors to cool tensions; however, none of them has so far managed to clear the air. On the one hand, there is the United States administration blatantly voicing concerns over the possible military developments while, on the other, Russia seems ready for action.
In a letter to Moscow, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken recently said Washington sees “serious diplomatic path” against the tension, reiterating they are committed to upholding and defending Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity as they do for all states in the world.
U.S. President Joe Biden and his top European allies held a phone call as a show of strength to send the message that Western countries are in a unified position. According to the Pentagon’s announcement, the U.S. has put 8,500 troops on alert in case of Russian mobilization. “There is time and space,” stated Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby, reemphasizing the government’s belief in diplomacy, which is good news despite what’s going on the ground.
NATO, which stated it would boost its deployments in eastern Europe, called for Russia “to try pursue a path of dialogue and find a political solution.” The alliance’s Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg expressed that while “we are hoping for and working for a good solution, de-escalation, we are also prepared for the worst.”
Europe on alert
On the European side, France, for example, strictly warned Russia in case of an attack too. “The response will be there and the cost (to Russia) will be very high,” France’s President Emmanuel Macron clearly said addressing a joint press conference ahead of talks with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz. He also signaled that the West is “totally united.”
Russia, meanwhile, repeatedly denies claims it is planning an offensive. But this doesn’t change the fact that it has deployed an estimated 100,000 troops near Ukraine in recent weeks.
Without a doubt, in any circumstances, civilians are stuck in the conflict zone. For the past few weeks, they have been living in fear of whether they will face an immediate attack or not. Instead of showing teeth to get more regional benefits or geopolitical advantages, the parties must be rational and think about the humanitarian dimension of the crisis. Indeed, this is what needs to be considered. Diplomacy, which offers a peaceful process to calm the tension, is the best, if not the only option. The parties are not required to reinvent the wheel to realize it.
On its part, Poland decided to supply weapons to Ukraine as the Polish government approved the delivery of air-defense weapons, ammo, and drones to the country amid the tension. The approved decision was dubbed as “good news” by Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Błaszczak. This development happened in the aftermath of Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki’s recent meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv. Morawiecki earlier said they would supply to Ukraine “several dozen thousand rounds of ammunition and artillery ammunition, air defense systems, and also light mortars and reconnaissance drones.”
The Turkish efforts
In this context, a concrete proposal came from the Turkish side this week as President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, in a televised interview, openly called for Russian President Vladimir Putin and Zelenskyy to meet at a negotiation table in Turkey. In order to pacify the escalation, Turkey is ready to host the two leaders, he said and underlined “we are ready to do whatever is necessary and I conveyed these messages to President Putin and President Zelenskyy.” The Kremlin immediately responded to Erdoğan’s call and said Putin accepts the Turkish leader’s invitation. Once the coronavirus pandemic situation and schedules allow it, Putin will visit Turkey, Moscow said, which is more good news.
Recently, Turkey has been taking positive steps in its diplomatic spectrum and making concrete maneuvers to normalize its relations at the same time. From Syria to the Gulf region, numerous attempts have been observed. Several Turkish officials repeatedly stated that, as part of the new diplomatic approach, the country gives utmost priority to the active part of diplomatic initiatives that deescalate tensions in any part of the world.
Since the emergence of the tug of war in Ukraine, the very Turkish agenda is observable on the ground, urging Russia and Ukraine to give diplomacy a chance. The country does it even with the possibility of damaging its growing partnership with Russia. Erdoğan said it would be unwise for Russia to make an armed attack, saying “there is a need for dialogue that will listen to Russia and eliminate their reasonable security concerns.”
All parties should remember that there is no winner in any war. It was proven in the last escalation in Ukraine too. Regardless of where it comes from, every diplomatic voice must be heard. It also should be kept in mind that if the tension turns into a crisis in Ukraine, it will have direct and indirect costs for the entire region.