In a phone call with his counterpart from Russia, Minister of National Defense Hulusi Akar emphasized the urgency of the safe evacuation of civilians, especially in Mariupol, Ukraine, according to a statement by the ministry.
Akar underlined to Sergey Shoygu the importance of reaching a cease-fire to help efforts for a diplomatic solution in Ukraine, as well as the “urgency of the safe evacuation of civilians, especially in Mariupol, from the land or sea.”
He also reiterated Turkiye’s commitment to keep doing its part to ensure peace in the region.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine
On February 24, explosions were reported in several Ukrainian provinces, including the capital Kyiv, after Russia’s President Vladimir Putin announced a ‘special military operation’ in the Donbas region.
Tensions had started escalating late last year when Ukraine, the US and its allies accused Russia of amassing tens of thousands of troops on the border with Ukraine. They claimed Russia was preparing to invade its western neighbor, which was consistently rejected by Moscow.
Defying threats of sanctions by the West, Moscow officially recognized Donetsk and Luhansk as independent states in late February, followed by the start of the invasion of Ukraine.
President Vladimir Putin said the operation aims to protect people “subjected to genocide” by Kyiv and to “demilitarize and de-Nazify” Ukraine, while calling on the Ukrainian army to lay down its arms.
At least 1,611 civilians have been killed in Ukraine and 2,227 injured, according to UN estimates.
More than 4.3 million Ukrainians have fled to other countries, with millions more internally displaced, according to the UN refugee agency.