The leaders of Ukraine and Turkey met on Thursday amid ongoing escalating tension between Ukraine and Russia, signing a free-trade deal and securing an agreement for Ukraine to create Turkish armed drones.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan proposed to mediate discussions between Russia and Ukraine. Erdogan said Turkey was “prepared to undertake its part in order to end the crisis between two friendly nations that are its neighbors in the Black Sea.”
“I have stressed that we would be happy to host a summit meeting at a leadership level or technical level talks,” Erdogan said hours of discussion with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. “Instead of fueling the fire, we act with the logical aim of reducing the tensions.”
“We will continue to support the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, including Crimea,” Erdogan said after a signing ceremony in Kyiv.
When Erdogan left the Mariinsky Palace in Kyiv, he turned toward the Ukrainian honor guard and, speaking Ukrainian, said, “Glory to Ukraine!” The honor guard responded with the traditional phrase, “Glory to heroes!”
The Wall Street Journal reported:
Bilateral trade between Ankara and Kyiv has grown sharply in recent years, jumping 60% in 2021 from a year earlier to $7.5 billion. The free-trade agreement signed during Mr. Erdogan’s visit to Kyiv aims to increase bilateral trade to $10 billion, the Turkish president said.
In a joint briefing, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky praised the deal to broaden manufacturing infrastructure for Turkish Bayraktar TB2 drones in Ukraine. “These are new technologies, new workplaces, and an increase in Ukraine’s ability to defend itself,” he said.
Ukraine’s Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov told Reuters that the drones agreement created “favourable conditions for Turkish manufacturers to build a drone factory in Ukraine so that we can produce the entire line of drones and get their high technologies.”
“I would like to thank President Erdogan for his initiative to become a mediator between Ukraine and Russia on the way to ending the war,” Zelensky said. The two leaders did not provide specifics about their discussions regarding Russia and reportedly did not answer questions.
In the past, Erdogan created tension in the West after deciding in 2017 to purchase the S-400 air-defense system from Russia. However, Erdogan has reportedly been attempting to improve relationships with the United States, as well as Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Israel.
“All this is prompted by Erdogan’s need to show the Turkish public that Turkey is a regional, even a global power,” a former senior Turkish official said, per the Journal. “The Ukraine mediation effort is another link in the chain.”
On Thursday, U.S. officials said they had gathered intelligence regarding Russia conspiring to utilize a false video in order to invent an excuse to invade Ukraine.
The New York Times reported that the U.S. is hoping to ruin the strategy by publicizing it.
The plan reportedly “involves staging and filming a fabricated attack by the Ukrainian military either on Russian territory or against Russian-speaking people in eastern Ukraine,” per the Times.
“Russia, the officials said, intended to use the video to accuse Ukraine of genocide against Russian-speaking people. It would then use the outrage over the video to justify an attack or have separatist leaders in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine invite a Russian intervention,” the outlet added.
State Department spokesman Ned Price reportedly said proof of the operation is classified in order to safeguard American sources.
Price said, “The production of this propaganda video is one of a number of options that the Russian government is developing as a fake pretext to initiate and potentially justify military aggression against Ukraine.”
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