Putin willing to end war with Ukraine, says Erdoğan

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Tuesday said he believes his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin is seeking an end to the war he began in Ukraine, and that the two sides had reached on agreement on the swap of hundreds of prisoners.

Russia and Ukraine have agreed to swap 200 prisoners in one of the largest exchanges of the seven-month war, Erdoğan told PBS in an interview.

The Russian leader is "showing me that he's willing to end this as soon as possible," Erdoğan said. "That was my impression, because the way things are going right now are quite problematic."

The Turkish President’s remarks arrive after talks last week with Russian Putin on the sidelines of a regional summit in Uzbekistan.

NATO member Turkey maintains good relations with both Russia and Ukraine and has been engaged in a balancing act between since conflict erupted between the countries. The country has acted as an intermediary between Russia and Ukraine; and was involved in the recent deal to unlock grain exports from Ukraine.

"Two hundred hostages will be exchanged upon agreement between the parties. I think a significant step will be taken forward," Erdoğan told PBS.

"We had very extensive discussions, and he is actually showing me that he is willing to end this as soon as possible," he added. "That was my impression, because the way things are going right now are quite problematic."

Moscow's return of captured territories would play an important role in any lasting truce, Erdoğan said, but stopped short of saying whether Putin was responsible for the invasion of Ukraine, saying there was no benefit in taking sides. 

"We are not going to defend a single leader. Instead, we have to look for a solution that will satisfy all the parties involved," the Turkish leader said.

Ukrainian forces are mounting a strong counteroffensive against Russian troops against the Russian invasion of Ukraine that began on Feb. 24, reclaiming territory lost.

With the support of Western military aid, Ukraine has managed to withstand the Russian onslaught, but President Volodymyr Zelenskyy regularly calls on the world  for increased support.

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