Turkey outlines stance on sanctions against Russia
Ankara is a mediator between Russia and Ukraine and will not join the US-led campaign to sanction Russia for its military action against its neighbor, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Tuesday.
“Our position on sanctions needs to be accepted due to the role of a mediator that we play. Our position is clear: we will not join them, and we will not allow sanctions to go through us,” he said as cited by the media.
The remark came as the EU announced agreement in principle on a sixth round of sanctions against Russia, which includes a partial oil embargo.
Turkey’s top diplomat reiterated the no-sanctions policy as he answered questions about Ankara’s foreign affairs from the Turkish news agency Anadolu. He said his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, was scheduled to visit Turkey next week, with the issue of safe navigation in the Black Sea on the agenda.
Cavusoglu said that Turkey, being the nation controlling access to the Black Sea from the Mediterranean, decided to cancel or postpone a number of scheduled NATO naval exercises, in a gesture of respect to Russian concerns about the alliance.
Turkey has repeatedly stated that it doesn’t see unilateral economic sanctions as a good tool and that it favored diplomacy in attempts to resolve the crisis in Ukraine.
Ankara hosted the only round of peace talks between Russia and Ukraine, during which the parties said tangible progress was made. The negotiations in Istanbul in late March concluded with Ukraine delivering to Russia written proposals on how their differences could be settled, including a pledge of neutrality by Kiev.
The process has since stalled. Kiev claimed Russian war crimes made it impossible for the Ukrainian public to accept a peace agreement and said it was determined to win on the battlefield with the assistance of Western nations.
Moscow said it formulated a formal peace agreement based on Kiev’s proposals and sent it to them, but have not heard back from the Ukrainian side. Russian officials said all statements made since by Ukrainian officials, including President Volodymyr Zelensky, that they are ready to negotiate with Russia were not in good faith.
Russia attacked the neighboring state in late February, following Ukraine’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements, first signed in 2014, and Moscow’s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. The German- and French-brokered protocols were designed to give the breakaway regions special status within the Ukrainian state.
The Kremlin has since demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join the US-led NATO military bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked and has denied claims it was planning to retake the two republics by force.