Turkey has banned Russian planes carrying troops from using its airspace to reach Syria in a major escalation by the otherwise cautious Turkish government toward pressuring Moscow to reach a peace agreement with Ukraine.
"We closed airspace to Russia's military planes and even to civilian planes going to Syria and carrying soldiers," Cavusoglu told reporters on Saturday. He said that Turkey was granting Russia access to its airspace in three-month intervals, which Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government decided not to renew, complicating logistics for Russia's military in Syria.
Just last month, Turkey blocked Russian warships from crossing the narrow Bosporus strait that connects the Black Sea with the Mediterranean Sea, muddling its naval supply lines in Syria.
Cavusoglu emphasized Turkey was continuing to facilitate peace talks between Russia and Ukraine and that the sides were working towards a draft joint declaration.
Cavusoglu said if progress is made in negotiations, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy had agreed that a meeting could be held in Turkey, where delegations from the two countries met last month for talks in Istanbul that failed to produce any breakthroughs but that Cavusoglu said would lead to subsequent negotiations.
The decision to fluster Russia's military operations in Syria echoes calls from a Ukrainian diplomat last month for Turkey to join sanctions and cut flights from Russia.
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But Ankara's parallel ties to Moscow and Kyiv have proved valuable. "Instead of criticizing Turkey we are working with the Turkish side as much as possible, and not demanding something that is improbable," the diplomatic source told Reuters, noting that it was still the only country that had managed to bring together Russian and Ukrainian officials for peace talks.