Biden signs spending bill to send $13.6 billion in aid, Zelensky gears up for Congress

Turkey has asked the Biden administration to downplay any public comments regarding Ankara’s security assistance to Ukraine, fearing its involvement could provoke Russian retaliation, US officials said.

The Turkish government has raised concerns about public references by US officials to several people in the US government, in particular about Turkish-made drones sent to kyiv and its decision to close the Bosphorus and Dardanelles straits. to warships, officials said.

These concerns have also been voiced before congressional committees working on Ukrainian policy.

The issue was not raised during President Biden’s phone call last week with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, officials said.

The Turkish government did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Turkey provided the Ukrainian army with Bayraktar TB2 model drones which, during the first weeks of the conflict, were essential for firing at Russian missile launchers, tanks and supply trains. The aid has won Turkey, a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, praise from other members of the military alliance.

In February, Turkey also announced that it would prevent all countries from moving warships through its strategic Bosphorus and Dardanelles straits during the Ukraine war, a move that would likely limit Russia’s ability to move. ships and other fleets to the Black Sea.

However, Turkey has tried to maintain an uncomfortable middle ground in the face of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, given its alliance and strong military cooperation with Moscow.

Turkey’s decision to buy the Russian-made S-400 air defense system led Washington to suspend its sale of American-made F-35 stealth jet fighters, fearing that the Russian-made planes could be used to collect information on American aircraft.

Turkey has tried to capitalize on its ties with Kyiv and Moscow by playing the role of mediator.

Last week, Turkey hosted the foreign ministers of Ukraine and Russia in the Mediterranean coastal city of Antalya to try to broker talks between the two sides, an effort that yielded little progress.

And although Turkey has called the conflict a war, it has also distanced itself from the chorus of condemnation of Russia by other NATO members for its invasion of Ukraine.