Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Tuesday Moscow and Ankara's military cooperation would not be deterred by the United States imposing sanctions on Turkey earlier this month for acquiring a Russian missile defense system.
"We have confirmed our mutual intention to develop military ties with Turkey" despite "Washington's illegitimate pressure," Lavrov said speaking during a joint press conference with Turkish counterpart Mevlut Çavuşoğlu in Sochi, Russia.
His comments came after Washington sanctioned Turkey over its purchase of Russian S-400 missile defenses.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said US sanctions were an act of aggression and violated Ankara's sovereign rights.
"We prefer to solve all issues, including that of the S-400, through negotiations," Cavusoglu said.
Earlier this month, the US imposed sanctions on Turkey for buying Russia's S-400 air-defense system, with officials in Washington saying Ankara's purchase of the missile system constituted a threat to the security alliance.
Ankara has said it only purchased the Russian system after unsuccessful negotiations over a US-made system, while Washington has said it has repeatedly offered its Turkish counterparts an American missile defense system if it scraps the S-400 deal.
Turkey and Russia will do their best for sustainable peace in the region of Nagorno-Karabakh, Foreign Minister Mevlut Çavuşoğlu said, adding: "Turkey-Russia joint center in the region will soon be active. We will also intensify efforts to normalize ties with Armenia."
Nagorno-Karabakh lies within Azerbaijan but was under Armenian occupation since a separatist war there ended in 1994. That conflict left the predominantly Armenian populated Nagorno-Karabakh region and substantial surrounding territories in Yerevan's hands.
Heavy fighting erupted between Armenia and Azerbaijan in late September in the biggest escalation of the decades-old conflict, killing more than 5,600 people on both sides.
The Russia-brokered agreement last month ended the recent fighting in which the Azerbaijani army routed Armenia's forces. The cease-fire deal stipulated that Yerevan hand over some areas it held outside Nagorno-Karabakh's borders. Baku also retained control over the areas of Nagorno-Karabakh that it had taken during the armed conflict.
Around 2,000 Russian peacekeepers have been deployed to Nagorno-Karabakh under the terms of the deal and are expected to stay in the region for at least five years. The Turkish Parliament also last month overwhelmingly approved the deployment of Turkish peacekeeping troops to Azerbaijan after Turkey and Russia signed an agreement for establishing a joint center to monitor the cease-fire in the region.
The mandate allows Turkish forces to be stationed at a security center for one year. Azerbaijan has been pushing for its close ally Turkey to play a central role in the implementation of the agreement, as Ankara pledged full support for Baku during fighting in the region.
Both ministers said they paid priority to the Nagorno-Karabakh settlement while discussing the international agenda.
"We welcome Ankara's desire to help the parties to the conflict fulfill their obligations. In particular, within the framework of the agreement signed by the presidents of Russia, Azerbaijan, and the prime minister of Armenia on Nov. 9, as well as within the framework of the Russian-Turkish joint center for monitoring the implementation of cease-fire obligations," Lavrov said.
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