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A representative from Ukraine was posing for a photograph while holding the flag when a representative from Russia walked over, ripped the flag away, and walked toward an exit. The Ukrainian member chased him, throwing several punches at the Russian’s head before taking the flag back.
Bystanders rushed in to pull the men apart and keep them separated.
🥊 In Ankara 🇹🇷, during the events of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Black Sea Economic Community, the representative of Russia 🇷🇺 tore the flag of Ukraine 🇺🇦 from the hands of a 🇺🇦 Member of Parliament.
The 🇺🇦 MP then punched the Russian in the face. pic.twitter.com/zUM8oK4IyN
— Jason Jay Smart (@officejjsmart) May 4, 2023
The Parliamentary Assembly of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation was founded in 1993 to foster cooperation and closer economic ties between countries in the region. Russia and Ukraine were two of the founding members along with Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova, Romania, and Turkey. The group has since expanded to include Bulgaria, Greece, and Serbia.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last year strained those relationships, according to The Telegraph.
At an event and during remarks from a Russian diplomat, some of Ukraine’s delegation rushed into the room shouting and waving a Ukrainian flag. The Ukrainians protested another time when a member of the Russian delegation addressed the assembly while wearing a St George’s ribbon, which the Ukrainians saw as a symbol of Russian aggression.
The Ukrainians were so enraged that they pushed away security personnel who stepped in to quiet the conference. The speaker of the Turkish parliament, Mustafa Sentop, ejected the Ukrainians and instructed delegates to protest orally.
“There is nothing wrong with this. If attempts are made to hold actions, the site of today’s meeting will cease to be a parliamentary event and turn into a street movement,” he said.
The tensions at the assembly come on the heels of Russia accusing Ukraine and the U.S. of collaborating on an attempt to assassinate Russian President Vladimir Putin by sending two drones to the Kremlin. Moscow reported shooting down two drones that flew over the Kremlin earlier this week, causing them to crash into the building. The Kremlin said that the incident did not harm any people or property.
The U.S. and Ukraine have both denied any involvement in the alleged incident.
“Mr. Peskov is lying, obviously. It’s a ludicrous claim. The United States had nothing to do with this. We don’t even know exactly what happened here,” U.S. national security spokesman John Kirby told CNN Thursday morning, referring to a Kremlin spokesman. “I can assure you the United States had no role in it whatsoever.”
“We neither encourage nor enable Ukraine to strike outside Ukraine’s borders,” he added.