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Turkey’s complex balancing act between Russia and Ukraine

President Erdogan’s desire to mediate between Moscow and Kiev is confounded by Turkish policies in Crimea and Russian separatism in eastern Ukraine.
Russian jet fighters fly over a bridge connecting the Russian mainland with the Crimean Peninsula with a cargo ship beneath it after three Ukrainian navy vessels were stopped by Russia from entering the Sea of Azov via the Kerch Strait in the Black Sea, Crimea November 25, 2018. REUTERS/Pavel Rebrov - UP1EEBP150TU1

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s efforts to convince Russia and Ukraine to resolve their differences diplomatically — following their recent naval skirmish in the Kerch Strait — has given pro-government circles in Turkey the impression that Ankara is poised to play a mediation role in this crisis.

Erdogan also encouraged this impression prior to departing for the G-20 summit in Argentina on Nov. 29. He told reporters that he had discussed the matter with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, and added that they would explore this possibility further with Putin during the G-20 summit.

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