Turkey won’t confront Russia in event of war in ally Ukraine

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NATO-member Turkey has no interest in confronting Russia in the event it invades Ukraine, despite growing defense ties cemented by Ankara’s sales of armed drones to Kyiv, according to a senior Turkish official.

Turkey isn’t coordinating steps on Ukraine with Washington and is acting independently to safeguard its own interests, said the official, who’s familiar with the country’s foreign policy.

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The reluctance of Turkey, which has the second largest army in NATO after the U.S., to militarily oppose Russia is compatible with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s foreign policy maneuvering, the official said. He wants to preserve Turkey’s interests from Syria to Libya and the Caucasus, conflicts where Moscow is on the opposite side, according to the official.

The Kremlin has massed more than 100,000 troops on Russia’s borders with its neighbor, along with tanks, artillery and other heavy equipment, prompting fears President Vladimir Putin may order an invasion.

Developing defense-industry relations with Ukraine provides Turkey with useful leverage in attempting to counter Russian actions in the region, said the Turkish official.

Earlier this week, Erdogan said Turkey was ready to mediate between Ukraine and Russia to avert an escalation of tensions.

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