Putin criticizes Ukraine’s use of Turkish drones in Erdogan call

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Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday criticized Kiev for deploying Turkish-made drones in its conflict with pro-Moscow separatists during a call with Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Putin, according to a Kremlin transcript of the call, said Kiev was aiming to disrupt peace agreements in eastern Ukraine, with “provocative” military action, “including the use of Bayraktar unmanned aerial vehicles,” which are produced by Turkey.

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The Ukrainian army in October released footage of what it said was its first use of the Turkish-made TB2 Bayraktar drone against separatists in the east of the country, where it has been fighting a trench conflict since 2014.

The move was met with criticism from Russia and also Kiev’s Western allies.

Both Turkey and Israel have recently been selling drones in the former Soviet Union and they played a key role Azerbaijan’s victory over Russia’s ally Armenia in last year’s Nagorno-Karabakh war.

The Kremlin said that during the call, “the need was emphasized for Kiev to abandon any attempts to forcefully influence the Donbass.”

Ankara, for its part, said Putin and Erdorgan only discussed a range of issues “especially Syria, Libya and Ukraine.”

Russia and Turkey have historically had complex relations, balancing regional rivalries with finding common ground on economic and strategic interests.

In recent years, the two powers have clashed in particular in Syria, where Moscow and Ankara support opposing camps in the civil war.

Tensions have escalated in Ukraine over recent weeks after the West claimed Russia had built up troops around Kiev’s borders, on Crimea - which Moscow seized in 2014 - and in two eastern regions held by pro-Russian rebels.

The Kremlin has denied the allegations and accused Washington of whipping up hysteria.

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