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Ukraine crisis: Turkey's Erdogan condemns Russia's recognition of breakaway regions

Turkish president said move was 'unacceptable' and called on all parties to respect international laws
Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the deployment of troops to the two breakaway regions, accelerating a crisis the West fears could unleash a major war (AFP/file photo)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday that Russia's recognition of two breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine is "unacceptable" and called on all parties to respect international laws.

"We see this decision by Russia as unacceptable," Erdogan told reporters on a flight in Africa. "We repeat our call for common sense and respect for international law by all sides."

Nato member Turkey, which shares a maritime border with both Ukraine and Russia in the Black Sea, has good ties with both its neighbours.

Erdogan has offered to mediate in the conflict, both warning Russia against invading Ukraine and criticising the West's handling of the crisis

The president, who has also said he opposes sanctions on Russia, added that Ankara had prepared "precaution packages" as a regional country.

Earlier on Tuesday, the Turkish foreign ministry said: "The decision of Russia to recognise the Donetsk and Luhansk Republics amounts to a clear violation of not only the Minsk agreements, but also Ukraine's political unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity.

"We find Russia's so-called decision to be unacceptable and reject it."

Turks advised to leave eastern Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered the deployment of troops to the two breakaway regions, accelerating a crisis the West fears could unleash a major war.

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A Reuters witness saw tanks and other military hardware moving through the separatist-controlled city of Donetsk after Putin ordered the deployment of Russian forces to "keep the peace".

About five tanks were seen in a column on the edge of Donetsk and two more in another part of town, a Reuters reporter said. No insignia were visible on the vehicles.

Putin's announcement drew international condemnation and immediate US sanctions to halt US business activity in the breakaway regions and ban imports of all goods from those areas.

Turkey's foreign ministry on Tuesday also said Turkish citizens in eastern Ukraine were "strongly advised" to leave the region.

"Within the framework of the latest developments in eastern regions of Ukraine, our citizens are strongly advised to leave eastern regions of Ukraine," the ministry said on Twitter.