Russia and its Donbass republic allies began a large-scale military operation aimed at “demilitarising” and “denazifying” Ukraine on Thursday. The US and its allies accused Moscow of unprovoked “aggression” and slapped Russia with new sanctions.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has informed his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu on the Russian-led military operation in Ukraine, and informed him that Moscow is prepared to work with ‘all constructive forces’ to resolve the crisis as soon as possible.
“The main goals and objectives of the comprehensive package of measures being taken aimed at demilitarising and denazifying Ukraine, ensuring the security of the civilian population of the country, and protecting the legitimate interests of the Russian Federation were stressed. The readiness of the Russian side for close cooperation with all constructive forces for the quickest possible sustainable settlement of the Ukrainian problem in the interests of peace and stability was emphasized,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a readout of Saturday’s telephone talks.
A Turkish diplomatic source told AFP that Cavusoglu had asked Russia to halt its operation in Ukraine during Saturday’s talks, and informed Lavrov of Ankara’s “readiness to host negotiations that could take place between the Russian Federation and Ukraine.”
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan condemned Russia over its recognition of the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics on Tuesday, and later called the military operation that began on Thursday as an “unacceptable” step that was “contrary to international law” and “a blow to the regional stability and peace.”
“We sincerely regret that Russia and Ukraine, that we see both as friendly countries and that we have close political and social relations, have come face to face in this way,” Erdogan added.
Shortly after the start of the Russian-led operation Thursday, the Ukrainian Embassy in Ankara called on “our strategic partner Turkey and the friendly Turkish people to support us in this difficult time.” Kiev also asked Ankara to shut down the Turkish Straits to Russian warships. Cavusoglu announced that Turkey could not stop the Russian ships due to Russia’s rights to return ships to their home bases in the Black Sea under the terms of the Montreux Convention.
Turkey joined the US and other NATO powers in delivering military equipment to Ukraine, including Turkish-made Bayraktar drones. The Ukrainian military began using the unmanned aerial vehicles in the Donbass late last year, claiming self-defence.