DOHA, March 27 (Reuters) – Turkey and other nations must still talk to Russia to help end the war in Ukraine, Turkey’s presidential spokesman said on Sunday, adding that Kyiv needed more support to defend itself.
NATO member Turkey has good relations with both Russia and Ukraine and has sought to mediate in the month-long conflict.
“If everybody burns bridges with Russia then who is going to talk to them at the end of the day,” Ibrahim Kalin told the Doha international forum.
“Ukrainians need to be supported by every means possible so they can defend themselves … but the Russian case must be heard, one way or the other,” so that its grievances could be understood if not justified, Kalin added.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has urged the West to give his country tanks, planes and missiles to fend off Russian forces. The West has responded to Russia’s invasion by slapping sweeping economic sanctions on Moscow.
Ankara says Russia’s invasion is unacceptable but opposes the Western sanctions on principle and has not joined them.
Turkey’s economy, already strained by a December currency crisis, relies heavily on Russian energy, trade and tourism, and since the war began on Feb. 24 thousands of Russians have arrived in Turkey, seeing it as a safe haven from the sanctions.
Ahmet Burak Daglioglu, head of Turkey’s investment office, told the forum separately that some Russian companies were relocating operations to Turkey.
Asked on a panel about Turkey doing business with any people which could be of benefit to President Vladimir Putin, he said: “We are not targeting, we are not chasing, we are not pursuing any investment or capital that has a question mark on it.”
Two superyachts linked to Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich have docked in Turkish resorts.
Western governments have targeted Abramovich and several other Russian oligarchs with sanctions as they seek to isolate Putin and his allies over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
Reporting by Ghaida Ghantous, Andrew Mills and Jonathan Spicer; Editing by Edmund Blair and Gareth Jones