The head of the Defense and Security Committee of the Russian Federation Council, Viktor Bondarev, said on Monday that Türkiye is turning into an unfriendly country after taking a series of provocative decisions.

“Unfortunately, the events of the past weeks clearly show that Türkiye continues to gradually and steadily turn from a neutral country into an unfriendly country because it has taken a series of provocative decisions,” Bondarev said.

He stated that Türkiye supports Ukraine’s attempt to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and released the leaders of the Ukrainian battalion that defended the “Azovstal” steel complex in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol before it was controlled by Russian forces, despite the agreement that they remain in Türkiye until the end of the war.

“Such behavior cannot be described as anything but a stab in the back,” Bondarev added, describing the move as “unfriendly as a result of pressure from NATO”.

Last Saturday, the Ukrainian president announced that five of the battalion’s commanders would return to Ukraine from Türkiye.

The five Ukrainian soldiers surrendered after the fall of Mariupol and, after being released from captivity, were transferred from Russia to Türkiye as part of a prisoner exchange that took place in September where they were to stay until the end of the war, according to the terms of the exchange.

On the other hand, the US State Department announced that it supports the sale of F16 fighter jets to Ankara, as well as support for Ankara’s goals regarding the European Union.

US State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said, last Monday, that Sweden’s membership in NATO and the sale of fighters to Türkiye are two separate issues.

In order to address Türkiye’s concerns, he added, Sweden amended its constitution, enacted a new law and arrested suspected terrorists.

Miller stated that these measures are sufficient to address Ankara’s concerns, and that it is time for Sweden’s membership in NATO.

He indicated that talks will continue with senior Turkish officials, and that the issue is a top priority for the United States.

He stated that they would continue to support Türkiye’s goals regarding the European Union.

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