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ANKARA/MOSCOW (Reuters) -Turkey is ready to act as a mediator between Ukraine and Russia, President Tayyip Erdogan was cited as saying by broadcaster NTV on Monday, despite having angered Moscow by selling armed drones to Kyiv earlier this year.
U.S., NATO and Ukrainian officials say Russian forces have massed on the border of Ukraine, which is battling Moscow-backed separatists who control part of its territory in the east.
Ukraine's military intelligence has said Moscow was preparing for an attack in early 2022. Russia has dismissed https://www.reuters.com/business/media-telecom/russia-spy-chief-says-ukraine-invasion-plan-malicious-us-propaganda-2021-11-27 the comments as U.S. propaganda.
NATO member Turkey has good ties with both Kyiv and Moscow, though it opposes Russian policies in Syria and Libya. It has forged energy and defence cooperation with Russia, while opposing Russia's 2014 annexation of Ukraine's Crimea peninsula.
Speaking to reporters on a flight from Turkmenistan, Erdogan was cited as saying by NTV and other media that Turkey wanted peace in the Black Sea region and was discussing the issue with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin frequently.
"Whether it is as a mediator or speaking to them about the issue, by holding these talks with Ukraine and Mr Putin, God willing, we want to have a part in the solution of this," he was cited as saying.
Asked about Erdogan's remarks, Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov declined to comment, but Kyiv welcomed the offer.
"We will welcome any efforts that can help us to put an end to this war, to return Ukraine's territories which are currently under Russian control," Ukrainian foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba told a news briefing.
He also said that if Russia decides to invade, Ukraine is ready to repel any attack.
Last month, Moscow said the Turkish drones risked having a destabilising impact https://www.reuters.com/world/middle-east/kremlin-says-turkish-drones-risk-destabilising-situation-east-ukraine-2021-10-27 in east Ukraine, after Kyiv deployed one to hit a position controlled by Russian-backed separatists. Turkey has said it cannot be blamed https://www.reuters.com/world/middle-east/dont-blame-us-ukraines-use-turkish-drones-turkish-fm-2021-10-31 for Ukraine's use of the drones.
(Reporting by Tuvan Gumrukcu in Ankara and Dmirty Antonov in Moscow; Additional reporting by Natalia Zinets and Pavel Polityuk in Kyiv, Editing by Jonathan Spicer, Daren Butler, William Maclean, Peter Graff)