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Ukraine uses Turkish drones in Donbass conflict zone, Putin tells Erdogan – Metro US

Ukraine uses Turkish drones in Donbass conflict zone, Putin tells Erdogan

FILE PHOTO: Russian President Putin meets his Turkish counterpart Erdogan
FILE PHOTO: Russian President Putin meets his Turkish counterpart Erdogan in Sochi

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Ukraine is using Turkish-made drones in the conflict zone in the Donbass region, sticking to “destructive” behaviour, Russian President Vladimir Putin told his Turkish counterpart Tayyip Erdogan on Friday, the Kremlin said.

Relations between Russia and Ukraine are in the spotlight as Kyiv says Russia amassed thousands of troops near the Ukrainian border and may be gearing up for a military offensive. Moscow denies plans for an offensive operation.

In a phone call, Putin told Erdogan that Ukrainian forces are carrying out “provocative activity” and are using Turkish-made Bayraktar drones in the conflict zone in a further attempt to undermine Minsk peace accords, the Kremlin said.

Turkey’s communications directorate said on Friday Ukraine was one of the issues which Erdogan discussed with Putin, but did not provide further details.

Ukraine has bought and deployed Turkish drones in the war against Russian-backed forces in its eastern Donbass region, angering Russia.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has said Turkey cannot be blamed for Ukraine’s deployment of Turkish-made drones.

In October, Russia accused Ukraine of destabilising the situation after government forces used a Bayraktar TB2 drone to strike a position controlled by Russian-backed separatists.

Ukraine used the Bayraktar drone “for one tidy shot” at a gun system, and since then enemy soldiers are afraid of doing duty at such systems as they understand “how this could end,” Ukraine’s defence minister Oleksii Reznikov said on Friday.

He also said Russia has amassed more than 94,000 troops near Ukraine’s borders and may be gearing up for a large-scale escalation at the end of January.

Russia-backed separatists have been fighting government troops in Ukraine’s Donbass region since 2014, soon after Russia seized the Crimea peninsula from Ukraine. Kyiv says at least 14,000 people have been killed.

(Reporting by Andrey Ostroukh; additional reporting by Natalia Zinets in Kyiv and Daren Butler in Istanbul; Editing by Alison Williams and Barbara Lewis)

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