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Russia to not bargain with Turkey over Syria and Ankara's position in NATO — envoy

Moscow is not giving up on its allies in the region, Alexander Lavrentyev pointed out

NUR-SULTAN, June 15. /TASS/. Russia is not going to turn a blind eye to Turkey's new military operation in northern Syria in exchange for Ankara's position on Finland and Sweden joining NATO, Alexander Lavrentyev, Russia's special presidential envoy for Syria, told reporters on Wednesday.

"As for possible exchanges [on Turkey's position] on Finland and Sweden joining NATO in exchange for turning a blind eye to the operation [of Turkey in northern Syria] - there is no such thing. We are not bargaining. We are not giving up on our allies in the region," he said when asked whether Moscow would turn a blind eye to any part of Turkey's operation in northern Syria in exchange for Ankara continuing to block Finland and Sweden from joining NATO.

"This is out of question, this is just talk," the special envoy stressed.

Finland and Sweden submitted applications to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg to join the alliance against the backdrop of events in Ukraine on May 18. Turkey blocked the start of the process of considering these applications. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Ankara could not say "yes" to Finland and Sweden's membership in NATO because it could not believe their assurances regarding ties with representatives of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), outlawed in Turkey.

On June 3, Erdogan announced his intention to conduct a new military operation in northern Syria to include the cities of Tell Rifaat and Manbij in the security zone created along the border in October 2019. Turkey now controls 10% of the Syrian territory with a population of about 4.4 million people.