Turkey has slammed an attempt by Vladimir Putin to annex swaths of Ukrainian territory, describing planned referendums for Russian-occupied regions as an “illegal” move that will make it harder to find a diplomatic solution to the crisis .
In Ankara’s first response to the Russian President’s announcement that state-run votes would take place in the Russian-controlled parts of Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia, Turkey’s Foreign Ministry said the move was a cause for concern.
“These types of illegal fait accomplis will not be recognized by the international community,” he said in a statement. “On the contrary, they are disrupting attempts to revive the diplomatic process and paving the way for greater instability.”
The statement stressed Ankara’s commitment to Ukraine’s “territorial integrity, independence and sovereignty”.
The referendums, the results of which are widely seen as inescapable, are uncomfortable for President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who said earlier this week that Russia must eventually return all Ukrainian territory it captured as part of a future peace agreement – while arguing that it should be a conclusion to the war “that will satisfy all parties involved”.
Erdoğan, who leads a NATO member state but has also sought closer economic ties with Moscow, has sought to act as a mediator in the conflict. He angered Western states by continuing to remain on good terms with Putin.
The two leaders were pictured walking arm in arm at a meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in Uzbekistan last week.