Turkey will continue to cooperate with Ukraine and Russia on defense projects as it does not see one country as an alternative to the other, Presidential Communications Director Fahrettin Altun said Thursday.
Highlighting Turkey’s strong relations with both countries, Altun said, Turkey’s relations with Russia are not limited to its purchase of the S-400 missile defense systems, similarly, its ties with Ukraine go beyond the sale of unmanned and manned aerial vehicles.
“Turkey has not ended its agreements with any countries as a result of pressure from others, because we do not base our agreements or cooperation on targeting other countries,” Altun said, adding that Russia is well aware of this fact.
He continued by saying that both deals precede the Russia-Ukraine tensions.
Noting that Turkey has been cooperating with Ukraine and Russia based on mutual respect and benefits, Altun said the country is ready to undertake the responsibility to facilitate peace, including through mediation, facilitation and hosting meetings.
The United States with its European allies has been warning that Russia is setting the stage for an invasion of Ukraine and has pre-positioned over 100,000 troops on its border with the former Soviet republic alongside significant artillery and tank deployments.
Moscow has denied preparing for a military offensive, saying its troops are there for regular exercises.
Turkey has been closely following the developments and is in close contact with both Kyiv and Moscow. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had said Turkey could mediate between the neighbors amid increasing tensions in the region and recently announced a visit to Ukraine on Feb. 3 to help defuse tensions; likewise, Putin said he would visit Turkey upon Erdoğan’s invitation.
NATO member Turkey has friendly ties with both Kyiv and Moscow but opposes Russian policies in Syria and Libya, as well as its annexation of the Crimean Peninsula.
In 2019, Ukraine purchased six Bayraktar TB2 armed unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and three ground control station systems from Turkey and plans to purchase more in 2022.
Turkish drones have gained popularity since the hardware was deployed in Syria, Libya and Azerbaijan during conflicts that were prominently covered around the world.
The UAVs are currently in active use in Turkey, Qatar, Libya, Ukraine and Azerbaijan.
Military tensions between Ukraine and Russia have been high since the annexation of the Crimean Peninsula by Russia in 2014.
Turkey, along with the rest of NATO, criticized Moscow's annexation of Crimea and voiced support for Ukraine's territorial integrity as Kyiv's forces battle pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.
The Crimean Platform was established in October 2020 as part of Ukraine's strategy of de-occupation of Crimea.
Turkey was among the first countries to voice support for the Crimean Platform to be held on Aug. 23.