ANKARA, April 10. /TASS/. Ankara is ready to offer "necessary support" to settle the conflict in eastern Ukraine on the basis of the Minsk accords, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday after talks with his visiting Ukrainian counterpart, Vladimir Zelensky.
"We think it our goal to see to it that the Black Sea remains a sea of peace, tranquility and cooperation and we don’t want tensions in our common geography to grow. In this context, we exchanged views with my dear friend about the current situation in eastern Ukraine. We believe that the current crisis should be settled by peaceful and diplomatic means on the basis of Ukraine’s territorial integrity and international law. We hope that the alarming escalation we have been observing on the ground in the recent time will be ended as soon as possible, the ceasefire will be observed and the conflict will be settled through dialogue on the basis of the Minsk agreements. We are ready to offer necessary support in this respect," he told a news conference televised by TRT TV.
He also said they had agreed with Zelensky to "continue strategic partnership."
The situation in Donbass has been escalating since late February 2021, despite the additional ceasefire control measures agreed by the sides on July 22, 2020. Shootouts have been reported from the contact line quite frequently, with casualties reported on both sides, including among civilians. Ukraine has blamed the Donbass republics for the escalation whereas Lugansk and Donetsk accuse Ukraine of ignoring the July 2020 agreements.
Turkey’s defense cooperation with Ukraine is not aimed against a third party, Turkish President said. "We have begun new consultations in the 2+2 format (the two countries’ defense and foreign ministers). This way we are strengthening coordination between our countries. Our cooperation in the defense sector in no way can be seen as an initiative aimed against third countries," he told.
Ukrainian army conducted exercises over the Black Sea off the Kherson region coast in late March to drill the skills of the use of Turkish-made Bayraktar TB2 reconnaissance drones.
Ukraine bought Bayraktar TB2 drones in 2019. It plans to stuff them with MAM-L high-precision bombs of Turkey’s Rokestan Co. Director General of Ukraine’s state-run company Ukrspetsexport Vadim Nozdrya said in October 2020 that Kiev was interested in joint production of Bayraktar TB2 drones in Ukraine. He also said that the Ukrainian army planned to buy 48 such drones of joint production that is expected to be organized in Nikolayev.