ISTANBUL – Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has discussed Ankara’s planned military operations in northern Syria and the war in Ukraine with Russia’s Vladimir Putin, Erdogan’s office said on Monday.
In recent days, Erdogan has said Turkey will launch a cross-border invasion of Kurdish militants in Syria to create a buffer zone 30 kilometers (19 miles) deep. The Turkish presidency said he told Putin in a phone call that the border zone was agreed in 2019 but had not yet been implemented.
Ankara launched operations against the People’s Protection Units (YPG) in October 2019. Russia, the Syrian regime and the United States have also deployed troops along the border.
Turkey considers the YPG a terror group linked to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has waged an insurgency against Turkey since 1984 that has killed tens of thousands of people.
However, the YPG is the backbone of the US-led forces fighting the Islamic State group in Syria. The United States is not satisfied with Turkey’s previous invasion of Syria.
Erdogan also told Putin that Turkey was ready to resume its role in ending the war in Ukraine, including participating in a possible “observation mechanism” between Ukraine, Russia and the United Nations.
Talks in Istanbul in March failed to make any progress, but Turkey, which has close ties to Kyiv and Moscow, has repeatedly offered itself as a possible mediator.
The Turkish president also called for peace in Ukraine as soon as possible and for confidence-building steps.
In Washington, the National Security Council said national security adviser Jack Sullivan had called Erdogan’s top adviser Ibrahim Kalin to discuss the two countries’ support for Ukraine, while also expressing caution about actions in Syria .
National Security Council spokeswoman Adrienne Watson said Sullivan “reiterated the importance of avoiding escalation in Syria in order to preserve the existing ceasefire line and avoid further destabilization.”
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