Turkey’s Erdoğan tried to resolve Ukraine-Russia Black Sea tension

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan held two separate phone calls with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to discuss the tensions in the Black Sea according to a source in Erdogan’s office, Reuters reported on Wednesday.

In a phone conversation Wednesday, Erdoğan also discussed the recent maritime tensions between Ukraine and Russia with the U.S. President Donald Trump, Anadolu Agency reported

According to the Turkish presidential resources, Erdoğan informed Trump on his earlier conversations with Putin and Poroshenko.

The conflict with Russia and Ukraine over the annexation of Crimea in 2014 took a new turn on Sunday as Russia's military opened fire and seized three Ukrainian naval vessels and 23 soldiers in the Black Sea off the coast of the Crimean Peninsula. 

While Kiev fears the Russian move could be a precursor to a full-scale invasion, Russia accuses Ukraine of provoking a conflict with the support of its Western allies, Reuters said. 

Despite the rapprochement between Turkey and Russia in the last couple of years, the annexation of Crimea is still a source of tension between two countries due to Turkey’s concerns about Crimean Tatars, an ethnic Turkic group speaking a similar language to Turkish.

Erdogan said this month that Turkey had never recognised and would not recognise the  annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation, during a joint press conference with his Ukrainian counterpart held after a meeting in Istanbul.

Erdoğan also said that Turkey would continue to protect the rights of Crimean Tatars who either lived in Crimea or had left since the occupation.

All 29 members of the NATO released a joint statement on Tuesday saying there was no justification for Russia’s use of military force against Ukrainian vessels.

NATO called on Russia to release the Ukrainian soldiers and reiterated its support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.