Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan accused the West of making the Russia-Ukraine crisis “worse” and slammed US President Joe Biden’s stance, Agence France-Presse reported, citing comments published by local media on Friday.
Erdoğan’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.
Erdoğan 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,” Erdoğan 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, Erdoğan said Europe was suffering “serious issues at the leadership level” after her departure.
After meeting Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Erdoğan 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, Erdoğan 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.
Erdoğan 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.