Turkey seems to be taking a stand over Crimea: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told PBS NewsHour this week that, following a discussion with Vladimir Putin, he believes that the Russian president is looking for ways to bring an end to the war as soon as possible.
Notably, though, Erdogan also appeared to stand up to the Russian president and demand that the Kremlin return the Crimean peninsula to Ukraine.
When asked whether he believes Russia should be allowed to maintain control of Crimea, which was illegally annexed by Russia in 2014, Erdogan expressed disappointment over the situation.
“These are our descendants at the same time, the people who are living there. If you were to take this step forward, if you could leave us, you would also be relieving the Crimean Tatars and Ukraine as well. That’s what we have always been saying,” Erdogan said, adding that he has been telling Putin to return Crimea to Ukraine since 2014.
“But since then, unfortunately, no step has been taken forward,” he said.
The comments from Erdogan are significant, given the Turkish president’s close relationship with the Russian leader. While they don’t always see eye to eye, Erdogan has remained one of the most influential and committed advocates for dialogue between Russia and Ukraine and continues to push Russia to do the right thing and leave the country.
In an interview with Reuters last week, the Ukrainian President suggested that Crimea could be returned to Ukraine through diplomatic efforts.
It may happen that Crimea will be returned by diplomatic means. This could happen… What kind of people will discuss this issue and when it will happen – I cannot say at the moment. But, nevertheless, this is my opinion,” Zelenskyy said.
Is Putin Preparing to Defend Crimea?
In a dramatic turn of events, after spending months in full control of Crimea and much of south-eastern Ukraine, Russia now appears to be preparing its military for new Ukrainian counter-offensives in Ukraine.
According to a report from the Center for Countering Disinformation at the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine, Russian forces in Crimea have started banning men from leaving the region – suggesting that they could soon be conscripted to fight.
“Autonomous Republic of Crimea. The occupiers issued a decree banning men from leaving the peninsula across the Kerch Strait Bridge but a few days later they removed it from their official resource. In this way, the Kremlin is testing Russians’ readiness to mobilize,” the report explains.
The decree was implemented and shared online, although quickly removed from official platforms online soon after.
Jack Buckby is a British author, counter-extremism researcher, and journalist based in New York. Reporting on the U.K., Europe, and the U.S., he works to analyze and understand left-wing and right-wing radicalization, and reports on Western governments’ approaches to the pressing issues of today. His books and research papers explore these themes and propose pragmatic solutions to our increasingly polarized society.