Erdogan called it "Mandatory" for Russia to Return Crimea to Ukraine
Two weeks after his second meeting this summer with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Recep Tayyip Erdogan again demanded that Russia return the annexed Crimea to Ukraine.
The return of Crimea to Ukraine, an indivisible part of it, is "generally a requirement of international law." Turkey does not recognize the annexation and considers the protection of the Crimean Tatars to be its priority, Anatolia Agency reported his words.
His words during a meeting of the Crimean Platform - a format founded by Ukraine last year, which this year also includes NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg - did not differ from the usual Turkish position. Ankara has never recognized the illegal annexation of the peninsula.
However, the moment in which Erdogan made these comments is striking. He spoke to Putin earlier this month in hopes of getting approval for a new operation in Syria, and in fact, spoke to him twice on the subject within weeks. A few days later, massive attacks on military sites in Crimea began, allegedly by Ukraine. Kyiv, meanwhile, hardened its tone and ruled out the war ending before the country regained the peninsula.
Last week, the Turkish leader was in Ukraine, where he talked with his Ukrainian colleague Volodymyr Zelensky.
Turkey did not impose sanctions on Russia at the beginning of the war and became a key point for business with Russia - the Turkish economy actually benefited from the conflict. At the same time, Turkish companies continue their military cooperation with Ukraine and will participate in the post-war reconstruction of the country.
Shortly before Erdogan's comments, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov called, in a meeting with his Syrian counterpart in Moscow, "unacceptable" any new Turkish operation in Syria.
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