BRUSSELS — President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine called publicly on Saturday for direct negotiations with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, but a senior Turkish official said that Mr. Putin was not ready for such talks.
“Zelensky is ready to meet, but Putin thinks that the positions to have this meeting at the leaders’ level are not close enough yet,” Ibrahim Kalin, a chief adviser and spokesman for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, said in an interview.
Turkey and Mr. Erdogan are playing a significant mediating role between Russia and Ukraine, trying to find a path toward a longer-term cease-fire and serious negotiations on a peaceful resolution to a brutal war that has lasted more than three weeks. Mr. Erdogan spoke to both Mr. Zelensky and Mr. Putin on Thursday to gauge their positions, and Mr. Kalin was on the call.
The Turkish official said that Mr. Putin no longer advocated replacing Mr. Zelensky but “now accepts the reality of Zelensky as the leader of the Ukrainian people, whether he likes it or not.”
“I believe that meeting will take place at some point,” Mr. Kalin said. “There will be a peace deal at some point. Of course, we all want this to happen sooner rather than later, but probably Putin thinks that he wants to be in a position of strength when he does that, and not appear to be weak, weakened by either military losses or by the economic sanctions.”