Turkey calls on Russia to stop ‘unlawful operation’
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has described the Russian military operation against Ukraine as a serious blow to regional security and as an unacceptable act, as he presided a security summit to assess the ongoing developments following the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“Let me start by saying that we consider Russia’s operation against Ukraine as unacceptable and we reject it,” Erdoğan said at a meeting in Ankara on Feb. 24. “This attack, which we see as a violation of international law, is a serious blow to peace and stability.”
Erdoğan talked to Ukrainian President Volodmyry Zelensky on Feb. 24 and assured him Turkey’s support to Ukraine’s political unity and territorial integrity will continue.
“I have told Mr. Zelensky that we support Ukraine’s struggle for the protection of its territorial integrity,” he added.
“We want the problems between these two countries, with whom we have very good relations, should be resolved in the context of the Minsk agreements. I also said this to Mr. [Russian President Vladimir] Putin last night,” he recalled. Erdoğan and Putin had a phone conversation late Feb. 23 to discuss the situation.
Turkey will do whatever necessary for the protection of everyone in Ukraine, particularly Turkish citizens and Tatars, Erdoğan said.
Turkey holds security summit
Following the start of the military operation by the Russian army against Ukraine, Erdoğan presided a security summit with the participation of senior civilian and military officials on Feb. 24 to have a detailed assessment on the developments and decide what measures will be taken in due course. Vice President Fuat Oktay, Defense Minister Hulusi Akar, Chief of General Staff Gen. Yaşar Güler and National Intelligence Organization (MİT) chief Hakan Fidan were among the participants.
A statement issued following the summit reiterated that this attack violates international law and Turkey finds it unacceptable. It repeated that Turkey will continue to support Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
‘Russia should halt operation’
The first statement from Ankara came from the Turkish Foreign Ministry.
“We consider the military operation launched by the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation against Ukraine unacceptable and reject it. This attack, beyond destroying the Minsk agreements, is a grave violation of international law and poses a serious threat to the security of our region and the world,” read a statement issued by the Foreign Ministry on Feb. 24.
Believing in the necessity to respect the territorial integrity and sovereignty of countries, Turkey is against the changing of borders by use of arms, it said. “We call on the Russian Federation to immediately stop this unjust and unlawful act.”
“Our support to Ukraine’s political unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity will continue,” it added.
In a separate statement, the Foreign Ministry issued a security warning for its citizens in Ukraine on Feb. 24 and said it would provide necessary support and guidance to Turks who wish to leave Ukraine. The ministry advised Turkish citizens to stay at their houses or in safe places and avoid traveling.
Çavuşoğlu speaks with Borrell by phone
Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu spoke with the EU’s high representative for foreign and security policies, Josep Borrell, on the phone during his visit to Kazakhstan. The two men discussed the recent developments following the Russian operation against Ukraine.
Çavuşoğlu, on Twitter, informed that he once again tested positive for COVID-19 in Kazakhstan. He suffered from the coronavirus last week but informed that he had tested negative before his visit to Kazakhstan.