Fri, 22 Sep 2023

Ankara's arms supplies to Kiev are at odds with its stated desire to help reach a truce, Moscow said

Continued Turkish weapons supplies to the Ukrainian military undermine Ankara's status as a potential mediator in the ongoing conflict between Moscow and Kiev, a high-ranking Russian diplomat told RIA Novosti in an interview published on Saturday.

"Ankara has repeatedly declared its intent to secure a speedy ceasefire in Ukraine and revive the negotiating process through its mediation," the head of the Russian Foreign Ministry's 4th European Department, Yury Pilipson, told RIA.

"Arms and military equipment supplies to the Kiev regime directly contradict such intentions and are at odds with the role of a mediator," added the diplomat, whose department is responsible for Russia's relations with Trkiye and the Balkan nations.

Trkiye hosted peace talks between the Russian and Ukrainian delegations in March 2023, around a month after the conflict between the two neighbors broke out in late February. Those talks were interrupted as Kiev accused the Russian military of killing civilians in the Kiev suburb of Bucha, something that Moscow denied.

Ankara also mediated a grain deal between Moscow and Kiev together with the UN last summer. Trkiye then repeatedly called for peace talks to be revived, offering its services as a mediator.

In late March, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said peace in Ukraine could be achieved through "serious, determined mediation." He also accused the West of trying to drag his nation into a war with Russia. Trkiye wants to secure peace between Russia and Ukraine "as soon as possible," he said at the time.

In May, Erdogan also hailed his "special relationship" with Russian President Vladimir Putin, adding that this had helped him secure the extension of the grain deal. He also advocated a "balanced approach" toward Russia. The Turkish president has spoken regularly with Putin since Russia's military operation in Ukraine began, and Trkiye is the sole member of NATO that has not imposed economic sanctions on Moscow.

At the same time, however, Trkiye has continued to send weapons and military equipment to Kiev. A Turkish company, Baykar Makina, supplied the Ukrainian forces with its Bayraktar TB2 strike and reconnaissance drones in the early phases of the conflict. Some of the unmanned aerial vehicles were purchased with money collected from the US and EU as charitable donations.

Since August 2022, Ankara has also been providing Kiev with its 'Kipri' mine-resistant armored vehicles. The first batch, consisting of 50 such armored personnel carriers, arrived in Ukraine on August 23 last year. Since then, the number of such vehicles in use by the Ukrainian troops rose to around 200 in mid-March, according to the Russian media.

Ankara has yet to comment on Pilipson's statements.

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