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Turkish Refusal to Sanction Wealthy Russians Signals Fractures in NATO Anti-Russia Crusade

© AP Photo / Stephanie LecocqTurkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu gives a joint statement with European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell prior to their meeting in Brussels, Thursday, Jan. 21, 2021.
Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu gives a joint statement with European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell prior to their meeting in Brussels, Thursday, Jan. 21, 2021. - Sputnik International, 1920, 27.03.2022
Turkey, Hungary, and others have angered other NATO nations by pursuing the interest of their own citizens over efforts to break Russians through a series of financial chokeholds.
Western efforts to isolate Russia on the international stage were dealt another blow as Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Saturday that Russians will be free to carry out commercial activities in Turkey.
“If Russian oligarchs or any Russian citizens want to visit Turkey, of course they can,” Cavusoglu declared in response to a question given at Doha Forum international conference.
As to “whether these oligarchs can do any business in Turkey, then of course if it is legal and not against international law, I will consider it,” he continued.
Cavusoglu has given the indication that Russian nationals will not face additional impediments to commercial ventures in Turkey.
Turkey, a member of NATO, has declined to sanction Russian citizens or close its airspace to Russian aircraft.
Referring to the “Russia-Ukraine crisis” after this week’s NATO leaders' summit in Brussels, Turkish President Recep Erdogan said, “Turkey's main aim is to reconcile the parties.”
The country has taken a considerably less antagonistic position to the ongoing Russian special military operation aimed at denazifying and demilitarizing Ukraine than most of its European neighbors and is publicly considering implementing a Ruble-Lira exchange for the countries’ tourism sectors.
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The Turkish government previously announced it was closing off access to the Black Sea to warships in response to petitions by western nations to invoke a 1936 international agreement that lets “Ankara manage war traffic entering the two sea lanes during times of conflict,” but it only did so after a lengthy delay.
It’s unclear whether the action has had any significant impact on the balance of forces in Ukraine. Turkey has also sold a number of Bayraktar TB2 drones to the Ukrainian regime.
Turkey is just one of a number of increasingly independent countries drawing the ire of the US and leading European powers for their apparent failure to express sufficient animosity towards Russia.
Hungary, another NATO nation and a member of the European Union, has also declined to participate in the Western campaign to alienate Russia. They have been similarly straightforward about the need to prioritize the development of their own economy over getting involved in foreign conflicts.
“The answer to the question of which side Hungary is on is that Hungary is on Hungary’s side,” Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban wrote on Saturday in a post on social media.
The comments seemed to come in a response to a surprisingly disrespectful video address Friday in which Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky openly demanded the Prime Minister “decide for yourself who you are with,” and addressed Orban by his first name: “Listen, Viktor, do you know what’s going on in Mariupol?”
The coastal city of Mariupol has been under the control of the Ukrainian National Guard’s neo nazi Azov Batalion, but reports indicate Russian forces have made serious advances recently.
Survivors who’ve managed to escape have accused the Azov soldiers—many of whom are open admirers of Adolf Hitler—of numerous potential war crimes, including refusing to allow the civilian population to evacuate via humanitarian corridors organized by Russia. And according to a widely-shared article in independent outlet The Grayzone, “testimony by evacuated Mariupol residents and warnings of a false flag attack undermine the Ukrainian government’s claims about a Russian bombing of a local theater sheltering civilians.”
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