Erdogan pledges his support to Ukraine


Dhe Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan pledged his country’s support to Ukraine during his visit to Kiev in the conflict with Russia. But he also confirmed his willingness to mediate between Kiev and Moscow. Russian President Vladimir Putin has rejected this offer. Before leaving for Kiev, however, Erdogan said on Thursday that Putin was expected to meet him in Ankara in the coming days after his return from Beijing.

It is the sixth time that Erdogan has met with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy since he took office in 2019. Several bilateral agreements were signed in Kiev. With the new free trade agreement, the aim is to increase the bilateral trade volume by more than a quarter to more than ten billion dollars, according to the Turkish media in the past few days. Turkish companies are among the largest investors in Ukraine.

Agreement to expand arms cooperation

The focus, however, is on agreements to expand arms cooperation. The Turkish drone manufacturer Baykar, which produces the TB2 combat drone, wants to work with the Ukrainian turbine manufacturer Motor Sich. The latter has already committed to supply engines for Baykar’s new Akinci combat drone.

Baykar has delivered twelve TB2 drones to Ukraine since 2018. The Ukrainian army uses them against the Russian-backed separatists in Donbass. The drones are said to have destroyed a separatist howitzer last October. In a telephone conversation with Erdogan on December 3, Putin is said to have complained about this “provocation”. The delivery of combat drones to Ukraine is just one reason why Putin rejects Turkey’s mediation. Because the NATO member Turkey supports the attitude of the alliance in the conflict over Ukraine. In addition, in the past few days Erdogan has once again emphasized the importance of Ukraine’s territorial sovereignty and refused to recognize Crimea as Russian territory.

Erdogan is walking a tightrope. Not only that Ankara bought the Russian S400 air defense system. Turkey gets 40 percent of its natural gas from Russia and has no alternative. In addition, Russia traditionally represents the largest group of holidaymakers in Turkey, and Russia is a very important sales market for Turkish agriculture. On the other hand, Erdogan advocates a larger NATO presence in the Black Sea region. Turkey is concerned that Russia has massively increased its naval presence in the Black Sea since annexing Crimea.


www.faz.net

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