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Fist fight breaks out between Ukrainian, Russian delegates

By Sarah May
|
May 5, 2023

A shocking scene broke out in Ankara, Turkey on Thursday when a Ukrainian delegate threw punches at a Russian delegate to the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation while the group's assembly was taking place, as Reuters reports.

The altercation was sparked when a Ukrainian flag in the possession of MP Olesandr Marikovski and other parliamentarians was grabbed away so that it could not be hoisted in the background while Russia's lead delegate to the conference was speaking.

Flag Snatching Prompts Scuffle

According to Politico, it was Valery Stavistky, secretary to the Russian delegation, who took offense to Marikovski's flag display and ultimately decided to take matters into his own hands outside in the facility's corridor.

Stavitsky approached Marikovski and snatched away the flag, which prompted the latter to give chase and then slap the former in the face.

Footage taken at the assembly illustrates what occurred both inside the parliamentary hall and outside in the hallway. WATCH:

Disturbances Condemned

As Politico further noted, Mustafa Sentop, the speaker of Turkey's parliament and the man who chaired the meeting, was placed in the regrettable position of having to intervene in the initial fracas over the flag and request that Ukrainian delegates be removed.

Sentop subsquently took to Twitter to condemn the events, which he characterized as “unfortunate and unacceptable.”

The actions of those involved “disrupt[ed] the peaceful environment Turkey is trying to establish,” Sentop added.

Indeed, as the outlet explained, Turkey has endeavored to serve as something of a go-between with leaders in Russia and Ukraine, playing an instrumental role in negotiating an agreement last year that permitted Ukrainian grain to be exported via the Black Sea.

Eventful Week

The melee in Ankara comes swiftly on the heels of Russian accusations that the leadership in Kyiv launched a drone strike on the Kremlin designed to assassinate President Vladimir Putin, as the Daily Mail noted.

Specifically, Moscow claimed that a pair of Ukrainian drones exploded overhead near Putin's place of residence in the wee hours of Wednesday morning in what was referred to as “a planned terrorist act.”

Reacting to the incident, Kremlin leaders put out a statement asserting the “right to take retaliatory measures wherever and whenever is deemed necessary.”

Though Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy denied any such attempt on Putin's life, Russia did ultimately engage in a series of missile attacks on Ukraine, with explosions reportedly heard in Kyiv as well as in cities in the south of the country.

Moscow Blames Washington

Though the Kremlin stated that the drone attacks near Putin's home were carried out by Ukraine, ultimate blame was assigned to D.C. by Russian spokesperson Dmitry Peskov, the Mail added.

“Decisions on such attacks are not made in Kyiv, but in Washington. Kyiv only does what it is told to do,” Peskov opined.

In the latest effort from Moscow to draw the U.S. directly into its conflict with Ukraine, Peskov maintained that actions such as the drone attacks are “also often dictated from across the ocean...in Washington they must clearly understand that we know this.”

Responding to Peskov's allegations was National Security Council spokesman John Kirby, who declared to CNN that they were “ludicrous” and added, “the United States has nothing to do with it. We don't even know exactly what happened here, but I can assure you the United States had no role in it whatsoever.”