Ukrainian President Zelenskiy met Turkish President Erdogan for more than three hours of talks as part of a previously scheduled visit, amid tensions between Kiev and Moscow.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan meets President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskiy at Huber Mansion in Istanbul, Turkey on April 10, 2021.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan meets President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskiy at Huber Mansion in Istanbul, Turkey on April 10, 2021. (AA)

The Turkish president has called for a de-escalation of tensions in Ukraine and said that his country desires a “peaceful” Black Sea.

“Our main goal is that the Black Sea continues to be a sea of peace, tranquility and cooperation,” President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said at a news conference with his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

Erdogan called for a “peaceful and diplomatic” solution to the ongoing crisis in line with international law and Ukraine's territorial integrity.

"We hope for the worrying escalation observed on the field recently to end as soon as possible, the ceasefire to continue and for the conflict to be resolved via dialogue on the basis of the Minsk agreements," Erdogan said.

"We are ready to provide any support necessary for this."

Erdogan reaffirmed Turkey's principled stance of not recognising the annexation of Crimea.

Zelenskiy said the positions of Kiev and Ankara coincided on threats in the Black Sea and the response to those threats, and added he briefed Erdogan "in detail" on developments in Donbass.

Zelenskiy also praised Turkey's “extremely important” support for Ukraine's territorial integrity.

He said that the defence industry was the driving force behind the Turkish-Ukrainian strategic partnership.

Erdogan said that Turkey and Ukraine launched a platform with their foreign and defence ministers to discuss defence industry cooperation, but added this was "not in any way a move against third countries".

Earlier, a meeting between Erdogan and Zelensky at the Huber Mansion started at 3:45 p.m. local time (1245GMT) and lasted for three hours.

The meeting came as the US said Russia is amassing its forces on Ukraine's eastern border at a level unseen since 2014 when it seized Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula and annexed it in violation of international law.

READ MORE: Ukraine president visits frontline amid unease over Russian troop movement

Kiev-Russia tensions

Kiev has raised alarm over a buildup of Russian forces near the border between Ukraine and Russia, and over a rise in violence along the line of contact separating Ukrainian troops and Russia-backed separatists in Donbass.

The Russian military movements have fuelled concerns that Moscow is preparing to send forces into Ukraine.

The Kremlin denies its troops are a threat, but says they will remain as long as it sees fit.

READ MORE: Is Russia about to launch a new offensive in Ukraine?

The United States says Russia has amassed more troops on Ukraine's eastern border than at any time since 2014, when it annexed Crimea from Ukraine and backed separatists in Donbass.

On Friday, Turkey said Washington will send two warships to the Black Sea next week.

READ MORE: US to send warships to Black Sea as tensions rise in Ukraine's Donbass

Ukraine and Russia have traded blame for the increase in violence in the conflict, which Kiev says has killed 14,000 people since 2014.

READ MORE: Reported Russian military buildup on border raises tensions in Ukraine

'Dangerous provocative actions'

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in a call with Erdogan on Friday, accused Ukraine of "dangerous provocative actions" in Donbass, the Kremlin said.

Kiev said on Saturday Ukraine could be provoked by Russian aggravation of the situation in Donbass.

"We want the problems between the two countries to be solved in a peaceful manner, through dialogue," Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar said on Wednesday. "We are trying to keep balance with Russia and other Black Sea coastal countries with out causing a crisis," he added. 

READ MORE: Can Ukraine join NATO when it’s under Russian threat?

Defence cooperation 

Ukraine purchased 6 Bayraktar TB2 type unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAV) and three ground control stations from Turkey in 2019.

On December 14, 2020, a technology sharing and production deal for Turkish Ada-class corvettes and UCAVs, which Ukraine will purchase, was signed between the Ukrainian Defence Ministry and Turkey's Presidency of Defence Industries.

That came after Vadim Nozdriya's, general manager of Ukrspetseskport- one of the country's major state arms conglomerates, announced on October 6, 2020, that Ukraine was interested in purchasing 48 joint- production Bayraktar TB2 UCAVs.

READ MORE: Turkey supports Ukraine's territorial integrity over Donbass, Crimea

Free trade agreement and goal of $10 billion of trade

Bilateral trade volume reached $4.7 billion last year and in the first quarter of 2021, increased by 18 percent and was realised at around $1.5 billion.

Erdogan and Zelenskiy recently agreed to finalise the negotiation for a free trade agreement to increase trade volume between the countries to $10 billion.

Tourism cooperation

Last year, despite the pandemic, around a million Ukrainians visited Turkey, whereas almost 150,000 Turkish tourists visited Ukraine.

READ MORE: Turkish President Erdogan hails deepening cooperation with Ukraine

In February 2020, Erdogan visited Kiev for the 8th meeting of the Turkey-Ukraine High-Level Strategic Cooperation Council.

Zelenskiy paid an official visit to Turkey in October, during which he met Erdogan and signed defence cooperation deals.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies