Russia complains to Turkey about drone sales to Ukraine, Turkish bureaucrat says

A Bayraktar drone is seen during a rehearsal of the Independence Day military parade in central kyiv, Ukraine August 18, 2021. REUTERS/Gleb Garanich/File Photo

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ISTANBUL, April 8 (Reuters) – Russia has complained to Turkey about the sale of Bayraktar TB2 armed drones to Ukraine, a senior Turkish bureaucrat said on Friday, but added that the sales were the result of a private Turkish company and not a state-to-state one. offers.

Russian President Vladimir Putin sent troops to Ukraine on February 24 in what he called a “special military operation” to demilitarize and “denazify” Ukraine. kyiv and the West say Putin has launched an unprovoked war of aggression.

“Russians are upset and complain from time to time about drone sales. They were complaining and they are complaining right now,” the bureaucrat said in a meeting with foreign media.

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“But we have already given the answer (…) that these are private companies and that these purchases of drones were also made before the war.”

Turkey has strong ties with Russia in energy, defense and trade, and relies heavily on Russian tourists. Turkish defense firm Baykar had sold the drones to kyiv over Russian objections and signed a deal to co-produce more ahead of the invasion, angering Moscow.

Turkey, a NATO member, shares a maritime border with Ukraine and Russia in the Black Sea, enjoys good relations with both and has played a mediating role in the conflict. It has hosted peace talks and is working to bring the Ukrainian and Russian presidents together.

While supporting Ukraine and criticizing the Russian invasion, Turkey has also opposed widespread Western sanctions against Moscow, saying communication channels must remain open and questioning the effectiveness of the measures.

Ankara also opposes Russian policies in Syria and Libya, as well as its annexation of Crimea in 2014.

After peace talks between negotiators in Istanbul last week, Ukraine named several nations, including Turkey and members of the UN Security Council, as possible guarantors of Kyiv’s security. The bureaucrat said some listed countries would face “legal problems” as guarantors of security, without giving further details.

Turkey has declared itself ready, in principle, to be Ukraine’s guarantor, but the details of the format are yet to be finalized. Read more

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Reporting by Jonathan Spicer; Written by Tuvan Gumrukcu; Editing by Daren Butler and Nick Macfie

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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