Turkey expects positive steps in Ukraine-Russia crisis

              By Hanife Sevinc, Murat Paksoy and Berk Ozkan</p>    <p>ISTANBUL (AA) - Turkish president on Friday said that he expects “positive” steps from Russia and Ukraine to resolve recent tensions between the two countries.</p>  <p> </p>  <p>Speaking to reporters in Istanbul, Recep Tayyip Erdogan said: “I held a phone conversation with [Russian President] Mr. [Vladimir] Putin in this regard, held an inter-committee meeting in Argentina and I also spoke with [Ukrainian President] Mr. [Petro] Poroshenko over the phone.”</p>    <p>“I hope they [Russia and Ukraine] will have a positive approach,” Erdogan said, and added “I think there is an investigation going on” over the detention of Ukrainian sailors. </p>    <p>“We can only make a request, we cannot go further,” the president added.</p>    <p>During a two-day NATO foreign minister's meeting on Wednesday, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg reiterated his call on Russia to ensure freedom of navigation and release the Ukrainian sailors and ships that it seized &quot;without delay&quot;.</p>    <p>Russia seized two Ukrainian navy ships and a navy tugboat along with 23 crew members Sunday off Crimea, accusing Kiev of entering its waters and provoking a conflict. </p>    <p>It said the vessels had ignored calls to stop, sparking military action.</p>  <p> </p>  <p>Russia intervened as the Ukrainian ships were relocating from the Black Sea port of Odessa to the port of Mariupol in the Sea of Azov. </p>    <p>Videos appeared online showing a Russian coast guard vessel ramming the Ukrainian navy tugboat in the Kerch Strait.</p>    <p>Ukraine also accused Russian warships of opening fire on the ships, asserting that crew members were wounded and the vessels were seized by Russia.</p>    <p>Russia and Ukraine have been at loggerheads since 2014, when Russia annexed Crimea after a controversial referendum.</p>    <p>Turkey, as well as the UN General Assembly, viewed the annexation as illegal.</p>    <p>Ukraine has also blamed Russia for separatist violence in eastern Ukraine near the border with Russia.