Russia wants UNSC to pressure Turkey to respect Syria’s sovereignty & borders

© Murad Sezer
Russia expects members of the UN Security Council to investigate reports of Turkish fortifications on Syrian territory, undermining efforts to settle the conflict, and pressure Ankara to seal the border and respect the sovereignty of its neighbor.

Addressing the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) back on June 8, Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin urged the body to check reports that Turkey is fortifying its positions on the territory of Syria with “reinforced concrete” structures.

More than two weeks later, Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN Vladimir Safronkov, once again brought up the issue of “Turkish illegal wall construction on Syrian territory.”

We presented concrete facts [and] stressed that Turkey’s actions undermine efforts to settle the conflict in Syria. And above all in the context of Russian-American cooperation,” Safronkov said adding that militants and supplies for terrorists are constantly flowing through the Turkish border into Syria.

Syria’s envoy to the UN, Bashar Jaafari welcomed Russian initiative in the UNSC, noting that the wall “goes deep” into Syrian territory. The envoy said that Damascus will do everything to protect its sovereignty, as Jaafari reminded the UNSC of “regular” intrusions by the Turkish military and intelligence agents into Syria.

Turkey is “sponsoring the activities of Islamic State [IS, formerly ISIS] in Syria, in Iraq by buying oil, gas, and stolen artifacts,” Jaafari added.

Safronkov also noted that during Thursday’s UNSC discussions Egyptian delegation also brought up Turkish violations of the Iraqi sovereignty. In December Turkey, which is part of the US-led anti IS coalition, deployed more than a hundred military personnel equipped with tanks and artillery to Iraq, next to the jihadist-controlled city of Mosul.

Baghdad has called the move a violation of Iraq’s sovereignty, while Turkey insists the troops are there as part of an international mission to train and equip Iraqi forces to fight against IS.

Safronkov did not seem surprised that the UNSC failed to come up with any measures against Ankara, “because of positions” of some members of the Security Council. Yet the diplomat expressed hope that Russian stance on the issue will be heard and that individual members of the council will use their influence on Turkey to stop violating the sovereignty of its neighbors and seal its borders to terrorist use.  

In Moscow, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova also stressed the need to close the Turkish border and to implement the UNSC resolutions.

The situation on the border between Syria and Turkey is not just complicated, but extremely unfavorable. That situation remains a source of continued tensions due to continued infiltrations by militants from Turkey and the delivery of weapons and ammunition for terrorist groups operating in Syria,” Zakharova said in a news briefing.

It is important to ensure that the Syrian-Turkish border is tightly sealed to stop all illegal weapons deliveries and the traffic of militants, who join terrorist forces, just as it is stated in the UN Security Council resolutions,” she added.