Ukraine, Russia & Putin, Turkey & Erdoğan

Turkey considers Russian recognition of Donbas ”unacceptable”

Erdoğan reiterated Turkey’s support for the integrity of Ukraine, whose right to exist was questioned last night by Russian President Putin.

Turkey considers Russia’s recognition of the breakaway region of Donbas “unacceptable,” Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan said on Tuesday after Moscow yesterday recognised the independence of the breakaway regions of Luhansk and Donetsk in eastern Ukraine, and that the Russian president ordered the sending of “pacification troops” to the region, to which the Ukrainian president responded by saying that he expects “clear and effective steps from our allies”, in clear reference to NATO.

Speaking to journalists aboard the presidential plane during his tour for several African countries, Erdoğan stressed that Ankara has always made clear its position in favour of mediation between Kiev and Moscow, but also in full support of the territorial unity of Ukraine, while urging common sense on both sides.

“We have been sincerely striving to de-escalate tensions in this crisis, and sending our messages about the solution to this problem,” said the Turkish president, stressing that Russia’s recognition of the independence of pro-Russian breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine is a clear violation of the political unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine.

Erdoğan also had harsh criticism for the recent Munich Summit, which he considered totally ineffective. “In my opinion, the Munich Conference was nothing more than a NATO summit,” said the Turkish leader, who also criticised the position of the United States in the conflict.

Turkey, prepared for a possible war in Ukraine

Asked how Turkey would react to a possible war in the Black Sea region (shared by Russia and Ukraine, but also Turkey), Erdoğan assured that the Turkish government has been taking precautions in this regard for some time, adding that Ankara will not avoid its responsibilities. In this regard, the Turkish president announced that Turkey, at the request of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, will participate in a joint summit involving the United Nations Security Council, Germany and Ukraine.

“I have previously expressed my support for a similar initiative, and I think this is the right thing to do. Mr. Zelenskyy’s proposal is a positive thing,” he told reporters covering his visit to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Senegal and Guinea Bissau.

Turkey recommends its citizens to evacuate eastern Ukraine

Following the rush of recent events, with Moscow’s recognition of the independence of the pro-Russian regions of eastern Ukraine and the dispatch of additional Russian troops to the area (de facto entering Ukrainian territory), the foreign ministry of Turkey “strongly recommends” today to all Turkish citizens who are in eastern Ukraine to leave the region.

“In light of the latest developments in the eastern regions of Ukraine, our citizens are strongly recommended to leave the eastern regions of Ukraine,” said a statement posted via the ministry’s Twitter account.

The Turkish president’s response comes after Putin signed a decree late yesterday recognising the sovereignty of the region known as Donbas, inhabited mostly by a Russian-speaking population and de facto independent since 2014. In a speech with marked nationalist overtones, Putin ordered the establishment of diplomatic relations between Russia and the Donbas, and questioned Ukraine’s right to form its own state after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, leaving the door open to new annexations of its territory.