Ukraine is using Turkish-made drones in the conflict zone in the Donbass region, sticking to “destructive” behavior, Russian President Vladimir Putin told his Turkish counterpart Tayyip Erdogan on Friday, the Kremlin said.
US spy agencies predict, Russia may stage a full assault on Ukraine as early as end-January. Ukraine Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov wrote in Atlantic Council piece that:
“It is no longer 2014 anymore, when many Ukrainians had trouble psychologically accepting the stunning reality that we were under military attack from “brother Russia.” Today, the Ukrainian army is one of the strongest ground forces in Europe with more than 400,000 combat veterans. We have the resources and the resolve to stand up to the enemy. And Russia knows it”.
Relations between Russia and Ukraine are in the spotlight as Kyiv says Russia amassed thousands of troops near the Ukrainian border and may be gearing up for a military offensive. Moscow denies plans for an offensive operation.
In a phone call, Putin told Erdogan that Ukrainian forces are carrying out “provocative activity” and are using Turkish-made Bayraktar drones in the conflict zone in a further attempt to undermine Minsk peace accords, the Kremlin said.
Turkey’s communications directorate said on Friday Ukraine was one of the issues which Erdogan discussed with Putin, but did not provide further details.
Ukraine has bought and deployed Turkish drones in the war against Russian-backed forces in its eastern Donbass region, angering Russia.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has said Turkey cannot be blamed for Ukraine’s deployment of Turkish-made drones.
In October, Russia accused Ukraine of destabilizing the situation after government forces used a Bayraktar TB2 drone to strike a position controlled by Russian-backed separatists.
Ukraine used the Bayraktar drone “for one tidy shot” at a gun system, and since then enemy soldiers are afraid of doing duty at such systems as they understand “how this could end,” Ukraine’s defense minister Oleksii Reznikov said on Friday.
He also said Russia has amassed more than 94,000 troops near Ukraine’s borders and may be gearing up for a large-scale escalation at the end of January.
It is not practical for Putin to break up his alliance with NATO ally Turkey, which allows him to undermine the latter. However, in the past Russia severely punished what it considers Turkish transgression at Russian interests with Proxy attacks elsewhere, such as Idlib-Syria.
Reznikov tried to rally Europe to Ukraine’s defense:
A major war in Ukraine would plunge the whole of Europe into crisis. The sudden appearance of between three and five million Ukrainian refugees fleeing the Russian invasion would be just one of many major concerns facing European society.
For example, the EU relies heavily on food imports including grain. A major war would seriously disrupt and possibly prevent entirely many imports from both Ukraine and Russia, creating a whole range of food security problems for the entire continent.
Regarding Turkey, her delivery of armed drones may get praise from EU and US, but the price to be paid may include murder of Turkish forces in Idlib. Putin may also attempt to capitalize on Turkey’s chaotic and high-wire politics by initiating provocations with the aim of causing Street protests, or assassinations.
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