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Russia, Turkey to develop military ties despite US sanctions

By AFP - Dec 29,2020 - Last updated at Dec 29,2020

A handout photograph taken and released on Tuesday by the Russian Foreign Ministry shows Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (left) welcoming his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu as they touch their arms ahead of their meting in Sochi (AFP photo)

MOSCOW — Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Tuesday that Moscow and Ankara's military cooperation would not be deterred by US sanctions on Turkey for acquiring a Russian missile defence system.

Washington this month punished Turkey for buying Russia's S-400 air defence system, imposing rare sanctions against a NATO ally.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at the time told Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu that the American sanctions were intended to prevent Russia from receiving substantial revenues from the sale.

On Tuesday, Cavusoglu visited Moscow for talks with his Russia's top diplomat Lavrov, who told reporters that, "we have confirmed our mutual intention to develop military ties with Turkey".

He added that Russian President Vladimir Putin appreciated Turkey's determination to "continue cooperation in this area despite continuing illegitimate pressure from Washington".

Cavusoglu said the US sanctions against Turkey were "an act of aggression against our country's sovereign rights", adding that Ankara would not give in to pressure.

"We prefer to solve all issues including that of the S-400 through negotiations," Cavusoglu said in comments translated into Russian.

“After introducing the sanctions the US announced it favours dialogue. We’ve never been against dialogue,” the Turkish foreign minister added.

Turkey last year took delivery of the $2.5 billion system, defying warnings that such military cooperation was incompatible with NATO and would let Russia improve its targeting of US stealth planes.

Although Russia and Turkey are rivals in several conflicts including Libya and Syria, Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan seek to maintain good relations.

The two countries are jointly monitoring a Russian-mediated truce over the disputed Nagorno Karabakh region after a six-week war between Armenia and Azerbaijan that claimed more than 6,000 lives.

Tensions between the two nations had risen over Nagorno Karabakh while the fighting was ongoing, with Russia accusing Turkey of deploying Syrian fighters to combat Armenian forces in the contested region.

Earlier this month Turkish police briefly arrested two Russian journalists in Istanbul for allegedly filming a drone production unit without permission.

 

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