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Crimea should be returned to Ukraine: Erdogan

On the same day that Russian Foreign Affairs Minister Sergei Lavrov informed Istanbul that any future Turkish military action in Syria would be “unacceptable”, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan rejected the Russian annexation of Crimea as illegal in a video address to the 2nd Crimean Platform Summit on Tuesday, August 23, 2022.

Türkiye supports Ukraine’s territorial integrity and rejects the illegal annexation of Crimea, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said.

“The return of Crimea to Ukraine, of which it is an inseparable part, is essentially a requirement of international law,” President Erdogan said in a video message to the Second Crimea Platform Summit on Tuesday.

He went on to add that protecting Ukraine’s territorial integrity, sovereignty and political unity was “critical” not only for regional security and stability but also for global security and stability.

The Crimea Platform is a diplomatic initiative of Ukraine and its president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, designed to be an international coordination mechanism to reverse the 2014 annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation.

“Türkiye does not recognise the annexation of Crimea and has been openly stating since the first day that this step is illegitimate and illegal. This is a principled stance that has not only legal but also moral foundations,” President Erdogan said.

New Turkish military action in Syria ‘unacceptable’ for Lavrov

Also on Tuesday, Russia’s FM Sergei Lavrov dubbed a potential escalation of military action in Syria “unacceptable,” in a bid to convince President Erdogan to renege from considering a new campaign in northern Syria.

During a press conference that featured him alongside his Syrian counterpart Faisal Mekdad, FM Lavrov said Russia and Syria were looking to negotiate with Turkey to “prevent any new military action.”

The Russian official also condemned Israeli missile attacks against Syria, in comments that underline a chill in once-warm Russian-Israel relations. This is par for the course of Russian Middle Eastern policy embedded in supporting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his government.

“We strongly condemned the dangerous practice of Israeli strikes on Syrian territory,” FM Lavrov said. “We demand that Israel respect the resolutions of the United Nations Security Council and, above all, respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria.”

The statement echoes Israel’s attack on a series of strikes on August 14. The targets were located near Assad’s ancestral home region and also close to Russia’s main Syrian bases on the Mediterranean coast, regional intelligence and Syrian military sources said.

Speaking at the same news conference in Moscow, Syrian FM Mekdad gave Mr Lavrov his backing to Russia’s actions in Ukraine, which Moscow incessantly calls a “special military operation” to disarm and “denazify” its smaller southern neighbour, while rejecting accusations of hitting Ukrainian civilian targets.

Israel has slammed Moscow for sending troops into Ukraine. Effectively, the Russian invasion has fueled bilateral tensions in recent months. Mr Lavrov himself added fuel to the fire in May saying Nazi leader Adolf Hitler had Jewish roots. The statement triggered Israel’s ire and forced a rare apology from Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Russian authorities have also opened legal investigations into the Russian branch of the Jewish Agency, Sochnut, which promotes emigration to Israel.

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