MOSCOW, September 1. /TASS/. Russia believes that Turkey’s interests in ensuring security and therefore its plans to set up a zone under its control in northeast Syria are absolutely legal, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in an interview with the "Moscow. Kremlin. Putin" program on the Rossiya-1 television channel.
Lavrov spoke about the outcome of Tuesday’s talks between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan. His comment was published on the Russian Foreign Ministry’s website on Sunday.
"This is another part of Syria, the northeast," Lavrov said, answering a question about Russia’s stance on Turkey’s plans to create a security zone in Syria. "Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that Turkey seeks to ensure its security interests there. President Putin confirmed that we recognize these interests as absolutely legal and support achieving an agreement, which would primarily take into account the respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Syrian Arab Republic," Lavrov said.
Russia’s top diplomat noted that a deal between Moscow and Ankara on maintaining stability in the other part of Syria - near Idlib in the country’s northwest remained in place. "Russian President Putin said during a press conference with Turkish President Erdogan that these agreements remained in force. The Russian and Turkish presidents agreed on particular steps for implementing them," Lavrov said.
Erdogan earlier said that in several weeks Turkey could independently start fulfilling its plan on setting up a security zone in Syria’s northeast if Ankara failed to agree with Washington on ensuring control there.
Turkey needs a buffer zone in Syria to return Syrian refugees there and create a so-called "safety belt" for the Turkish border. Ankara deems the Kurdish People’s Protection Units active in this region and other groups as terrorists posing a threat to its national security. In July, the republic’s leadership started actively declaring its plans on carrying out a new military operation to the east of the Euphrates in Syria. This region is controlled by the Kurdish units.
The Turkish and US military agreed on August 7 to set up a joint operations center in Syria. The first group of the US military, who will work there, arrived in the Turkish town of Urfa (Sanliurfa), located some 50 km from the Syrian border, on August 12. The center has been established by the two countries in order to fulfill a plan on creating a buffer zone in northern Syria, where Syrian refugees could return from Turkey and which could become a "safety belt" for the Turkish border.