Turkey calls for fight against “acts of provocation” ahead of US-Russian talks

ANKARA: Turkey on Saturday warned against “provocative acts” ahead of talks between Russia and the United States next week to ease tensions over Russia’s military build-up on the Ukrainian border.

NATO, of which Turkey is a member, has warned of the real risks of Russia invading Ukraine after Moscow amassed tens of thousands of troops on the Ukrainian border. Senior US and Russian diplomats will meet in Geneva on Monday after Moscow drew up a list of demands for Washington and NATO.

Russia will then meet with all 30 NATO members on Wednesday – the first such meeting since July 2019.

“Our hope is that the tensions between Ukraine and Russia, between Russia and NATO, will be resolved by peaceful means,” said Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar.

“Let us not exacerbate tensions, let us avoid acts of provocation or acts which can be considered provocative,” Akar said during a briefing in Ankara. “This is why we repeat to our interlocutors that it is very important to act with caution.”

The Turkish minister also denounced what he suggested was an “open or secret” arms embargo against Turkey by its NATO allies, without naming any country.

“The weakening of the Turkish armed forces means a weakening of NATO,” he told reporters.

Canada blocked military arms exports to Turkey in April last year after an investigation found that technology from Canadian drones exported to Turkey had been used by Azerbaijan in clashes with the ‘Armenia.

Prior to that, in 2020, the United States hit Turkey’s military procurement agency with sanctions against Ankara’s controversial purchase of a Russian missile defense system.

Akar also said Ankara was ready to help authorities in Kazakhstan, after protests in the former Soviet country against rising fuel prices escalated into widespread violence.

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