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Russia Lashes Out at Turkey Over Troops in Iraq

  • Margaret Besheer

FILE - Russia's U.N. ambassador, Vitaly Churkin, shown addressing the Security Council in May 2014, says Turkey acted "recklessly" in deploying troops to Iraq.

FILE - Russia's U.N. ambassador, Vitaly Churkin, shown addressing the Security Council in May 2014, says Turkey acted "recklessly" in deploying troops to Iraq.

Lingering tensions between Russia and Turkey over Ankara’s shooting down of a Russian fighter jet along the Syrian-Turkish border last month were evident Tuesday as Moscow’s U.N. envoy lashed out at Ankara over its recent troop deployment to northern Iraq.

“We believe Turkey has acted recklessly and inexplicably, carrying out additional deployments on the territory of Iraq without the consent of Iraqi government,” Ambassador Vitaly Churkin told reporters.

Russia requested a closed-door discussion in the U.N. Security Council about Ankara’s deployment of soldiers and tanks in Iraqi territory. Baghdad has demanded that Ankara pull them out immediately because they were sent without its consent.

“They gave explanations saying basically that all that was in the interest of fighting against ISIL and in the interest of Iraq," Churkin said. "So if that is the case, why not ask for the permission of the government of Iraq?”

The Russian envoy also criticized the U.S.-led international coalition of 65 countries that is conducting airstrikes against the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq for doing so without Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s consent.

In September, Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed an international coalition to fight IS, which would include Assad’s forces, but his plan has garnered little international support. Churkin said the Turkish move only underscored the need for such a coalition.

Asked whether he raised the issue of the downed Russian warplane before the council, he said he did not because there was no direct connection, except that it is “another display of recklessness of the behavior of Turkey.”

Iraqi U.N. Ambassador Mohamed Ali Alhakim told reporters that Iraq and Turkey were resolving the issue of the troops bilaterally. “We are working together through this,” he said, adding, “We have not yet escalated it to the Security Council or the United Nations.”

He said that Russia brought the issue to the council on its own and not on behalf of or in consultation with Iraq’s government. “They can discuss anything they want,” he said of Russia.

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