Ukrainian president says ties to Turkey making army stronger

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has said that the bilateral ties between Turkey and Ukraine have made their armies stronger.

Duvar English - Reuters

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy spoke to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Nov. 17 and said bilateral ties had made their armies stronger.

Ukraine has bought and deployed Turkish drones in the war against Russian-backed forces in its eastern Donbass region, angering Russia. Russia's subsequent troop movements on Ukraine's borders have sparked concern in the West.

Zelenskiy in a tweet said the partnership with Turkey was deepening.

"It's already strengthening the armed forces of our countries. The expected FTA will also contribute to economic growth."

Ankara's sale of the drones to Ukraine drew ire from Russia, with Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov last month warning Turkey that the use of the equipment could further aggravate the conflict in Donbass.

Peskov was commenting on the deployment by Ukrainian government forces of a Turkish-made Bayraktar TB2 drone to strike a position in eastern Ukraine controlled by Russian-backed separatists.

"We have really good ties with Turkey, but in this situation, our fears are unfortunately being realized that the deliveries of these types of weapons to the Ukrainian military can potentially destabilize the situation on the line of contact," Peskov told reporters.

Lavrov echoed Peskov's concerns, saying Russia was investigating reports that Ukraine used the Turkish drone.

“This should give pause to those who give airtime to Ukraine's stubborn demands it should be admitted to NATO right away,” he said.

Russia-backed separatists have been fighting government troops in Ukraine's Donbass region since 2014, soon after Russia seized the Crimea peninsula from Ukraine. Kyiv says at least 14,000 people have been killed.

Ukraine has bought sophisticated Turkish drones to boost its military and has struck a deal with Ankara to produce the same drones at a factory close to Kyiv, the capital.

The drone issue is one of several straining ties between Turkey and Russia even though the two countries enjoy close ties in other areas.