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Russia, Ukraine FMs to meet in Turkey for peace talks today

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Russia, Ukraine FMs to meet in Turkey for peace talks today
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Russian and Ukrainian foreign ministers (Sergey Lavrov, left, and Dmytro Kuleba, right) have agreed to meet on Thursday on the side of a diplomatic forum in southern Turkey [Reuters]

Antalya, Turkey: In the first high-level contact between Kyiv and Moscow since Russia invaded its neighbour two weeks ago, the foreign ministers of the countries--will hold face-to-face talks in southern Turkey today.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba will meet and discuss the ongoing conflict in Turkey's resort town of Antalya, in the presence of Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu upon the two sides' demand.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has pushed for Turkey to play a mediation role, has expressed hope the talks can avert tragedy and even help agree a ceasefire.

But analysts fear there are only the lowest chances of a breakthrough at the meeting in Antalya between Russian Foreign Minister and his Ukrainian counterpart.

Senior Ukrainian officials, including the defence minister, have held a sequence of meetings with a Russian delegation in Belarus largely devoted to humanitarian issues, but Moscow has not sent any ministers to the talks.

Kuleba confirmed in a video on Facebook he was preparing to meet Lavrov on Thursday, warning that his expectations were "limited".

He said the success of the talks would depend on "what instructions and directives Lavrov is under" from the Kremlin at the discussions.

"I am not pinning any great hopes on them but we will try and get the most out of" the talks with effective preparation, he said.

Lavrov flew into Antalya late on Wednesday ahead of the talks, which are being held on the sidelines of a diplomatic forum organised by Cavusoglu in Antalya, a Turkish official said.

The meeting is likely to be tense after Kuleba in an interview last week with CNN described Lavrov as the "Ribbentrop of his time" in reference to the foreign minister of Nazi Germany in World War II.

"We are working to stop this crisis transforming into a tragedy," Erdogan said on Wednesday.

"I hope the meeting between the ministers will open the way to a permanent ceasefire."

Turkey is a traditional ally of Ukraine and has supplied the country with Bayraktar drones -- made by a firm whose technology director is Erdogan's own son-in-law -- which Kyiv has deployed in the conflict.

But it is seeking to maintain good relations with Russia, on which Turkey depends heavily for gas imports and tourism revenues.

Erdogan called the Russian invasion "unacceptable" but at the same time, Ankara has not joined Western sanctions against Moscow and refused to close its airspace to Russian planes.

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TAGS:russia ukraine war russia ukraine peace talk 
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