Ukraine not a barrier for Turkey-Russia ties, Russian ambassador says
Ukrainian nationalist activists shout slogans as they hold national flags during a demonstration rally in front of pro-Russian activists at the regional administration building in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, April 7. AFP PhotoTurkey has stressed the importance of a joint attitude from NATO and EU countries on the political crisis in Ukraine, but this is not an obstacle to enhance bilateral ties between the two countries, Russian Ambassador to Turkey Andrey Karlov has said.
“Turkey embraced the attitude of NATO and EU countries. We respect Turkey’s attitude on this issue, as we do in other attitudes. Our differences on international issues will not negatively influence our bilateral relations, primarily economic ties,” the Russian ambassador said, speaking at a conference on April 9.
Asked for further elaboration on recent Russian claim that U.S. ships have stayed in the Black Sea on a number of occasions beyond the terms of the Montreux Convention, which regulates the transit of naval warships, Karlov reiterated Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s remarks and declined to comment on details of the alleged violations.
“Warships from states without a Black Sea coast can remain in the Black Sea for a limited time. U.S. warships have extended their deployment beyond the set terms and broke the regulations set within the Montreux Convention,” he said.
The ambassador, meanwhile, said he have would been “surprised” if anybody had said in early January that Crimea would demand to join Russia.
“We don’t want to split Ukraine,” Karlov said, but added that Russified regions of eastern Ukraine recently echoed the Black Sea peninsula’s earlier demand that Moscow send its troops for support.
What had happened in Kyiv is now happening in Donetsk, he stated, noting that the region wanted to remain as part of Ukraine but demanded “federation.”
He emphasized the “possibility” of “fascist groups” coming from western Ukraine and attacking the eastern part of the country.
Karlov also took the opportunity to underline that Russia would put Crimean Tatar’s culture and history “under protection,” adding that wages for Crimean public servants would be doubled. There have been concerns, also expressed by Turkey, that Russia will not respect the rights of Muslim Tatars in the region.
Tensions have risen in the mainly Russian-speaking east of Ukraine since the overthrow of Kyiv’s Moscow-backed president and the installation of a new pro-European government.
Hundreds of irate activists who want Ukraine’s Russified eastern industrial heartland to break away from Kyiv occupied a series of strategic buildings over the weekend and declared independence for the bustling region of Donetsk.