The statement of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the true goal of Ankara’s steps in Syria came as a surprise and the Kremlin seeks explanations, Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Wednesday.
“No doubt, we hope that in the near future there will be explanations on this from our Turkish partners,” Peskov told reporters.
“The statement was indeed news, this is a very serious statement,” he said, speaking about Erdogan’s words that the Turkish troops entered Syria to end the rule of Syrian President Bashar Assad.
“The statement is in discord with previous ones in general and with our understanding of the situation,” Peskov said, recalling that Russia is the only country the Armed Forces of which are in Syria on a legitimate basis after a request from Damascus. “It is very important to remember this.”
Speaking on whether Erdogan’s position could affect the relations between Moscow and Ankara, Peskov said: “No, principal and hypothetic speculation is irrelevant here.” The Kremlin spokesman stressed that Erdogan’s statement was heard by the whole world.
He reiterated that Turkey is Moscow’s partner and the two leaders maintain rather intense and trust-based contacts. “Before making any judgements, we expect that this position will be clarified,” Peskov stressed. The Turkish leader made no statements on such plans of Ankara during the recent phone conversations with President Vladimir Putin, he added.
On Tuesday, Erdogan said that Turkey’s Operation Euphrates Shield in Syria, which began on August 24, 2016, is aimed at ousting Assad. Earlier Ankara said that the goals of Turkey’s forces were to fight against the Islamic State terrorist group (outlawed in Russia) and armed Kurdish units in northern Syria.
Earlier on Wednesday, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said that Moscow relies on public statements made by the Turkish president, while the words concerning Bashar Assad were uttered “off the record.”