Erdogan ‘saddened’ by Russian invasion, Ukraine urges Turkey to shut straits
Turkey supports Ukraine’s territorial integrity and is “sincerely saddened” by Russia’s invasion, President Tayyip Erdogan said on Thursday, as Kyiv’s envoy to Ankara urged Turkey to close the Bosphorus straits to Russian warships.
Earlier on Thursday, Russian forces commenced an invasion of Ukraine, assaulting by land, sea and air in the most significant attack by one state against another in Europe since World War Two.
Erdogan, who has developed good connections with the leaders of both Russia and Ukraine and earlier offered to negotiate in the conflict, said he had spoken with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy by telephone.
“Turkey supports Ukraine’s battle to protect its territorial integrity,” Erdogan said in remarks broadcast by Turkish TV.
“We are sincerely saddened that Russia and Ukraine, both of whom we see as friendly countries and with whom we have close political, economic, and social relations, come face to face in this way.”
Earlier, Kyiv’s ambassador to Ankara, Vasyl Bodnar, said NATO member Turkey should not remain impartial in the conflict, and he urged it to provide aid and to close the Bosphorus and Dardanelles straits to Russian ships.
“Turkey will evaluate the requests and respond as soon as possible,” Bodnar said after his talks with Turkish Deputy Foreign Minister Sedat Onal. “We expect solidarity to be shown.”
Ukraine’s request that Turkey to stop access to Russian ships in the Black Sea puts Turkey in a difficult position as it shares a maritime border with Ukraine and Russia in the Black Sea.
Under a 1936 pact, Ankara controls the straits and can limit the passage of warships during wartime or if threatened.