Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused the West of making the Russia-Ukraine crisis “worse” and slammed US President Joe Biden's stance, in comments published by local media on Friday.
Erdogan's comments, made on his return from a trip to Kyiv on Thursday, come as he tries to set up a Russia-Ukraine summit aimed at easing fears that Russian President Vladimir Putin is preparing to invade Ukraine.
Erdogan has tried to position Turkey, which is a member of the NATO defense alliance, as a neutral mediator close to both Moscow and Kyiv.
He issued some of his strongest criticism yet of the European and US positions on the crisis in an interview with Turkish reporters on his plane.
“Unfortunately, the West until now has not made any contribution to resolving this issue. I can say they are only making things worse,” Erdogan said, adding that Biden “has not yet been able to demonstrate a positive approach.”
Praising former German chancellor Angela Merkel and her approach to Ukraine, Erdogan said Europe was suffering “serious issues at the leadership level” after her departure.
After meeting Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Erdogan reaffirmed his offer to host a Ukraine-Russia crisis summit in Turkey.
He said on the plane that Putin has “responded positively” to the idea and that a date for the Russian leader's visit would now be set soon.
On his flight back, Erdogan also criticized the international media's coverage of the crisis, which has relied heavily on US intelligence assessments that the Kremlin rejects and Kyiv has been cautious to accept.
“I believe the international media's escalation of the issue between Ukraine and Russia has caused more damage than good,” he said, quoted by the CNN Turk broadcaster.
Erdogan and Zelensky also signed an agreement expanding the production of parts in Ukraine for a Turkish combat drone whose sale to Kyiv has angered Moscow.
Erdogan says Israel, Turkey can jointly bring gas to Europe
Turkey and Israel can work together to carry natural gas from Israel to Europe and the two countries will discuss energy cooperation during talks next month, Erdogan was cited as saying on Friday.
Turkey has been working to mend its strained regional ties with Israel and other nations as part of a charm offensive launched in 2020. In an apparent easing after years of animosity, Erdogan said on Thursday that Israeli President Isaac Herzog will visit Turkey in mid-March.
Speaking to reporters on a return flight from Kyiv, Erdogan said energy cooperation would be on the agenda during Herzog's visit, and added Ankara was also in talks on signing a natural gas supply deal with Iraq, according to Turkish media.
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