Turkish and US diplomats discuss bilateral relations and Ukraine crisis

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu and his US counterpart Antony Blinken had a telephone interview on Monday and discussed ongoing Russian-Ukrainian tensions and the establishment of a joint strategic mechanism between the two countries.

According to a statement released by Ankara, as bilateral relations between the two NATO allies dominated the agenda of the appeal, other issues discussed included developments in Sudan, Ethiopia and the Caucasus.

Kiev has fought a pro-Moscow insurgency in two eastern regions bordering Russia since 2014, shortly after the Kremlin annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula. The United States and its allies have warned for weeks that Russia may plan an invasion of Ukraine. Russia denies planning to invade Ukraine, but satellite images showing up to 100,000 troops gathered at the border have put Western nations on high alert.

Ukraine, which wants to join the NATO military alliance, accuses Moscow of supporting the separatists in the conflict in its east since 2014. Russia considers itself threatened by a NATO advance and wants to prevent the former republics neighboring Soviets, Ukraine and Georgia to join NATO. Alliance. Fighting between Ukrainian government forces and pro-Russian separatists in Donbass has claimed more than 13,000 lives since 2014, according to the United Nations. The region is one of the many sources of friction between Russia and Ukraine.

While President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan proposed in October the role of Turkey’s mediator for the crisis, he then clarified that with the consent of both parties, Turkey can offer facilitation, mediation or support under no circumstances. any format. Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu also said that Turkey was in contact with Russia and Ukraine, noting that Ankara had advised both sides to remain calm and defuse the situation.

In a first response, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov rejected Ankara’s offer during an interview with reporters in Moscow, saying: “The point is that Russia is not a party to the conflict. in the Donbass. It will be impossible to find solutions to the problem at such a summit. In contrast, Ukraine welcomed Ankara’s statements. “We will welcome all efforts that can help us to end this war, to return the territories of Ukraine which are currently under Russian control,” Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said at a press briefing .

Most recently, Ankara urged Moscow and the Western Defense Alliance to voice their differences in the direct negotiations proposed by NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg.

“If Russia has any specific expectations or problems from Turkey regarding the reduction of tensions between Russia and NATO, Turkey will assess this positively because our objective is clear,” Ankara said.

Turkey, a NATO member, maintains good relations with Moscow, even though it opposes Russian policies in Syria and Libya. He forged energy and defense cooperation with Russia while opposing Russia’s 2014 annexation of the Crimean peninsula by Ukraine.

On the flip side, NATO allies Ankara and Washington disagree on a host of issues, from Turkey’s purchase of Russian S-400 missile defense systems – a move that has resulted in US sanctions l last year – differences in regional politics, human rights, issues and US support for the Syrian branch of the PKK terrorist group, the YPG.

More recently, Turkey sent a letter to the United States regarding the establishment of a joint mechanism on the issues on which President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and President Joe Biden had agreed, the President said on Thursday. presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalın.

“We wish to maintain equal, fair and transparent relations based on mutual interest and respect in a comprehensive manner,” Kalın said, adding that in doing so, Turkey would prioritize its own national interests and priorities.

Kalın also noted that it was still possible to turn a new leaf in the relationship if the United States took steps to recognize Turkey’s national security interests and the relationship could go much more productively. However, he added that it would not be possible to move forward if the fundamental issues are not addressed.

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Christi C. Elwood