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Erdoğan says recognition of Ukraine rebel republics unacceptable

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Tuesday slammed Russia’s recognition of Ukraine’s breakaway regions as “unacceptable,” the Agence France-Presse reported, citing state-run Anadolu news agency.

“We consider the decision unacceptable,” said Erdoğan, who is currently in Senegal.

“We invite the parties concerned to act with common sense and comply with the international law.”

Late on Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed decrees ordering military forces into the breakaway regions of Luhansk and Donetsk for “peacekeeping” purposes, in addition to an agreement of cooperation with the heads of the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic and the Luhansk People’s Republic, recognizing their independence.

The move came amid months of tension over Russia’s military deployment on the borders of Ukraine, which has raised fears of an all-out war.

Erdoğan, who has friendly ties with both Russia and Ukraine, has sought to host the two countries’ leaders for a three-way summit in Turkey to ease tensions.

He visited Kyiv earlier this month for talks with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky whom he said looked “favorably” to a Turkey-hosted summit.

And he was expecting a response from Russian President Putin.

“And if Mr Putin also looks on this positively, we can, God willing, come together in İstanbul or Ankara,” Erdoğan said last week.

Despite political disagreements with Russia, Turkey has enjoyed burgeoning trade and defense ties with Moscow, with Ankara purchasing a Russian S-400 missile system in defiance of criticism from the West.

In the meantime, Turkey, a member of NATO since 1952, has drawn Russia’s ire for selling drones to Ukraine in its conflict with pro-Moscow separatists.

Erdoğan vocally opposed Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea because of the historical presence of ethnically-Turkic Tatars on the peninsula.

Meanwhile, the Turkish Foreign Ministry also in a statement on Tuesday described Russian President Putin’s decision to recognize the independence of the two separatist regions in eastern Ukraine as “unacceptable.”

“The decision of the Russian Federation to recognize the so-called Donetsk and Luhansk Republics, in addition to contradicting the Minsk Agreements, constitutes a clear violation of Ukraine’s political unity and territorial integrity,” the ministry said in a written statement.

“The Russian Federation’s decision is unacceptable and we reject it,” it added.

“We reiterate once again our commitment to the preservation of Ukraine’s political unity and territorial integrity and invite all concerned parties to act with common sense and to abide by international law,” it said.

In a separate announcement, the ministry on Tuesday also “strongly urged” Turkish citizens to leave the eastern regions of Ukraine in light of the latest developments, recommending that they contact the Turkish Embassy in Kyiv if necessary.

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