Turkey has sent clear messages regarding the ongoing tensions between Russia and Ukraine, urging common sense and for both sides to adhere to international law, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Tuesday, as he called President Vladimir Putin’s recognition of Ukraine’s separatist regions "unacceptable."
Speaking to reporters on the presidential plane who attended his tour of African countries, Erdoğan said Ankara has made it clear that Turkey is against Russia’s recognition of separatist regions.
"We have been sincerely striving to de-escalate tensions in this crisis and sent our messages regarding the solution of the issue," he said, adding that Russia’s recognition is a clear violation of Ukraine’s political unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity.
On Monday, Putin ordered a "peacekeeping operation" in Ukraine's Luhansk and Donetsk regions after recognizing the separatist regions' independence, paving the way to provide them more military support – a direct challenge to the West that will fuel fears that Russia could imminently invade Ukraine.
Erdoğan also criticized the Munich summit for being ineffective.
"In my opinion, the Munich Conference was nothing but a NATO summit," Erdoğan said, as he also criticized statements by the United States.
Western countries, including the U.S. have claimed that Russia has been attempting to create a pretext to invade Ukraine and amassed about 150,000 troops near the border.
In response to a question about how Turkey would react to a war in the Black Sea region, Erdoğan said the country has been taking precautions and will continue work in this regard and that Ankara will not avoid its responsibilities.
The president also said Turkey would participate at a joint summit with United Nations Security Council member-states, Germany and Ukraine, upon Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s invitation.
"I had previously voiced such an initiative and I think this is the right thing to do. Mr. Zelenskyy’s proposal is a positive approach and we will join if this positive approach resonates with UNSC members and other countries," Erdoğan added.