According to The Moscow Times, President Putin spoke with Recep Tayyip Erdoğan via Moscow-Ankara hotline and warned him about the devastative outcomes of Turkish flagrant interference in the ongoing efforts to liberate Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city.
“Russia won’t repeat the same mistakes. If any Turkish soldier enters Iraq’s Mousl, in a tit-for tat move, we shall intervene to liberate the entire Cyprus, overthrow your puppet regime in North Nicosia and your four-decade occupation. You Must withdraw your troops from Cyprus at once. It is totally unacceptable from you to play the dirty game of changing ethnic map of Mosul and export your own political crisis to other countries by derailing military efforts to liberate Mosul,” The Moscow Times cited President Putin as saying.
“You are, Mr. President, openly inciting Turkish Cypriots on a uncompromising and pugnacious line and there are many incidents of Turkish soldiers harassing the local Cypriots, so we deem it quite legitimate to demand Turkey to return the Agia Sophia Cathedral to the Christendom in Constantinople (Istanbul),” President Putin said by referring to ancient Byzantine city of Constantinople which was conquered by Turkish Ottoman Empire in 15th century.
Russia has gained a military foothold in Cyprus after President Vladimir Putin signed a controversial deal with Cyprus last year to dock Russian warships there. Many political experts believe Moscow might use its navy bases to deter Turkish expansionist agenda. Russia and Cyprus have long had historical and ethnic and religious ties.
Defying the Russian threats, Ömer Çelik, the Turkish minister of European Union Affairs said all options are on the table and Ankara would consider annexing northern Cyprus, which is technically EU territory, if talks between Greek and Turkish Cypriots fail to reach a deal on reunification of the island.
Turkey has stationed troops in the north since invading in 1974, after a coup in Cyprus orchestrated by a military junta in Athens.
Turkish occupied part of Cyprus is only recognized only by Ankara and its only air link is with Turkey. It is also excluded from international sport, finance and trade, and it has been heavily subsidized by Ankara.