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Turkey rejects Russian annexation of Ukrainian provinces

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Turkey on Saturday said Russia’s annexation of four Ukrainian provinces was a “grave violation” of international law and called for negotiations to end the conflict, Agence France-Presse reported.

A foreign ministry statement said Ankara had not recognized Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 and held the same stance after Russia on Friday declared Lugansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia part of its territory after referendums that were slammed globally as a sham vote.

“Türkiye did not recognize Russia’s annexation of Crimea in an illegitimate referendum in 2014 and has emphasized its strong support to Ukraine’s territorial integrity, independence and sovereignty on every occasion,” the ministry said.

It added that it rejected the latest annexation “which constitutes a grave violation of the established principles of international law.”

“We reiterate our support to the resolution of this war, the severity of which keeps growing, based on a just peace that will be reached through negotiations,” the statement said.

NATO member Ankara opposes Western sanctions on Russia on principle and has close ties with both Moscow and Kyiv, its Black Sea neighbors. It also condemned Russia’s invasion and sent armed drones to Ukraine as part of its diplomatic balancing act.

Ankara is dependent on Russian oil and gas while Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is keen to boost trade with Moscow as he tries to stabilize the battered economy in the run-up to elections next June.

Erdoğan met with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of a regional summit in Uzbekistan last month.

But Turkey is now weighing whether to stop processing transactions made using Russia’s Mir payments system after receiving repeated warnings from the United States.

Washington has increased pressure on Turkish banks and businesses to comply with Western sanctions against Russia, warning that Turkish entities risked being exposed to secondary sanctions themselves.

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