Russia warns Turkey over ties with Ukraine


FILE PHOTO: Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov attend a joint news conference following their talks in Moscow, Russia January 13, 2020. Pavel Golovkin/Pool via REUTERS

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia's foreign minister on Monday warned Turkey against what he said were attempts to fuel "militaristic sentiment" in Ukraine after Ankara moved to boost cooperation with Kyiv.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan last month pledged support to Kyiv amid a buildup of Russian forces along its border with Ukraine.

Erdogan said at the time that Turkey, a NATO member, and Ukraine had launched a platform with their foreign and defence ministers to discuss defence industry cooperation, but added that this was "not in any way a move against third countries".

"We strongly recommend that our Turkish colleagues carefully analyse the situation and stop fuelling Kyiv's militaristic sentiment," Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in an interview with Argumenty i Fakty newspaper.

He said that encouraging "aggressive" Ukrainian actions towards Russian-annexed Crimea amounted to an encroachment on Russia's territorial integrity.

"We hope Ankara will adjust its line based on our legitimate concerns."

Turkey, along with the rest of NATO, criticised Moscow's 2014 annexation of Crimea and voiced support for Ukraine's territorial integrity as Kyiv's forces battle pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.

Turkey, which faces Ukraine and Russia across the Black Sea to the north, also sold drones to Kyiv in 2019.

But Ankara has also forged close cooperation with Moscow over conflicts in Syria, Libya and Nagorno-Karabakh as well as in the areas of defence and energy.

Moscow's ties with the West have languished at post-Cold War lows since the annexation of Crimea, which resulted in a flurry of sanctions being imposed against Russia.

(Reporting by Tom Balmforth; Writing by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber; Editing by Gareth Jones)

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