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UN Takes No Action On Russian Call To Curb 'Reckless' Turkish Moves

  • RFE/RL

Vitaly Churkin, Russia's ambassador to the United Nations: "We believe Turkey has acted recklessly and inexplicably." (file photo)

Vitaly Churkin, Russia's ambassador to the United Nations: "We believe Turkey has acted recklessly and inexplicably." (file photo)

Russia denounced as "reckless" Turkey's deployment of troops to northern Iraq, but the United Nations Security Council declined to take a stand on the dispute.

"It was very important to call the attention of the Security Council to this situation," Russia's UN envoy Vitaly Churkin said after a December 8 meeting he requested to address recent Turkish military moves in Iraq and Syria.

"We believe Turkey has acted recklessly and inexplicably in carrying out additional deployments in Iraq without the consent of the Iraqi government," he said. He added that Turkey's "unpredictable" move even seemed to "bewilder" its ally, the United States.

Churkin said Turkey was following the example of the U.S.-led coalition that is conducting air strikes against the Islamic State militant group in Syria and Iraq, which also did not gain the permission of the Syrian government before it started bombing.

Churkin said he was "disappointed" with the meeting's outcome. Russia had proposed issuing a statement reaffirming the need to respect international law and state sovereignty while calling for unity against IS extremists.

He said he particularly deplored the reluctance of the United States, which chaired the meeting, and other Western members of the council to reign in NATO ally Turkey.

While Iraqi leaders have also complained loudly about Turkey sending troops into an area outside Mosul where Kurdish militia are fighting Islamic State, they did not request Russia's intervention at the UN and said they were negotiating separately with Turkey to settle the matter.

"We are solving it between Baghdad and Ankara bilaterally," Iraqi UN Ambassador Mohamed Ali Alhakim said. "We have not yet escalated it to the Security Council or to the United Nations."

Alhakim added that the negotiations with Turkey are "going extremely well."

U.S. State Department spokesman John Kirby said the United States welcomes the talks between Iraq and Turkey and believes "that is the best path forward" to resolve the troop issue.

Iraq earlier on December 8 asked NATO to put pressure on Turkey to remove its troops.

Baghdad over the weekend was more strident in demanding that Turkey withdraw, giving Ankara a December 8 deadline, which Turkey ignored.

Turkish officials say the troops in Iraq are part of its long-standing mission to train Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga forces to fight IS, and the recent addition of troops was part of a rotation needed to carry out that mission.

Samantha Power, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, appeared to back Ankara on that point.

"Our understanding of the original Turkish deployment is that it was negotiated with the Iraqi government. So we are hopeful that this additional deployment is something, too, that can be done in that manner," she said.

With reporting by AFP, Reuters, and TASS