The roots of the Kiev-Moscow conflict and calls from Ankara

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The tension between Ukraine and Russia continues to worsen day by day. Russian troops are deployed near the common border between the two countries and the world is worried about a possible invasion of the Kremlin. Ukraine is on high alert and urging the West to act. The United States is focused on the issue and so far neither side has backed down in weeks. Russia denies planning an operation and argues that NATO support for Ukraine is the real and only threat to Russia’s western borders. While Moscow says it feels threatened by NATO and the United States, Washington claims the opposite. He describes the movements and concentration of troops on the border as “unusual”.

There are around 100,000 Russian troops still on the Ukrainian border despite warnings from US President Joe Biden and European leaders. The latest intelligence assessment from the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense indicates that Russia has deployed more than 127,000 troops near Ukraine, including 21,000 air and sea personnel, and has increased its intelligence activities against Ukraine.

There have been rounds of diplomatic talks between Russia and the West; however, the tension did not ease. The United States has already declared that a Russian invasion can happen at any time.

The same scenario can also be observed in Crimea. Russia has a huge naval base in Crimea, which it annexed in 2014.

In Ukraine, the Donbass region is pro-Russian but there is also a very strong pro-European anti-Russian sentiment which can easily be witnessed in the capital Kiev.

I was one of the journalists covering President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s official visit to Ukraine a few years ago and I vividly remember that the largest wall art in the capital was the one symbolizing the resistance against Russia.

Those who hope to join the European Union and dream of breaking free from Moscow fear that the country will go haywire and those who are pro-Russian mostly from Russian-speaking families support the existence of Moscow in the country.

Church and independence

But I must remind you that the Ukrainian Orthodox Church declared its independence from Moscow four years ago and linked up with the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Istanbul, which is considered ecumenical by Orthodox Christians. The ceremony took place in Istanbul and I was invited as one of the few journalists to attend. With the Patriarchate freed from Moscow, Ukraine gained more independence; however, Russia is now trying to regain control.

In fact, the current problems date back to 2013 when the former Ukrainian president, supported by Russia, Viktor Yanukovych, then suspended talks with the EU, which caused huge protests in Kyiv. The annexation of Crimea comes a year later. Then pro-Russian separatists in the cities of Donetsk and Luhansk declared independence and clashes began. Many civilians were killed in these clashes. The crisis therefore goes back nine years.

Turkey’s position

Turkey is the only country that maintains close relations with Russia and the West. Therefore, it can talk to both parties and play a vital role. This is why Erdoğan wants to mediate between Russia and Ukraine. Turkey also does not want a war near its territories and wants to use all its power to prevent such an eventuality.

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