ANKARA (Reuters) -President Tayyip Erdogan said the United States and other Western nations had done nothing to help resolve the Russia-Ukraine crisis and were merely a hindrance, broadcaster NTV and Turkish media quoted him as saying on Friday.
Erdogan, who is seeking to burnish his credentials as a potential mediator, said no European leader was capabale of resolving the stand-off and U.S. President Joe Biden had made no positive contribution yet.
The president, who has close ties with both Kyiv and Moscow, said he “greatly values” a planned visit by Russian President Vladimir Putin to Turkey.
His comments came after he met Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelenskiy on Thursday in Kyiv and repeated Turkey’s offer to mediate the crisis with Moscow, which Zelenskiy welcomed. He also proposed hosting a meeting of the Ukrainian and Russian leaders.
“I have to say this very clearly: if you pay attention, the West has unfortunately not contributed anything to solving this matter,” Erdogan told reporters on his return flight. “I can say they were literally only a hindrance”.
“There is a serious issue in Europe now in terms of leaders who can solve this issue” now that former German Chancellor Angela Merkel stepped down, he was quoted as saying.
“When we look at…the United States, Biden has not yet shown a positive approach to the matter,” Erdogan added.
The United States and European nations are concerned about Russia’s buildup of more than 100,000 troops near Ukrainian borders. Moscow denies Western suggestions it plans an invasion but it has demanded security guarantees and says it could take military measures if demands are not met.
Turkey, which shares a maritime border with both Ukraine and Russia in the Black Sea, has said any military conflict would be unacceptable and warned Moscow that an invasion would be unwise.
Erdogan has said Turkey will do what is necessary as a NATO member in the event of a Russian invasion but has opposed sanctions on Russia as threatened by other allies.
While forging cooperation with Russia on defence and energy, Turkey has opposed its policies in Syria and Libya, as well as its annexation of the Crimean peninsula in 2014. It has also sold sophisticated drones to Ukraine and inked a deal to produce more near Kyiv, angering Russia.
Some Western nations have accused Turkey of straying from NATO over its cooperation with Russia, which led to U.S. sanctions against Ankara in 2020. Turkey has dismissed this and said it can form positive ties with all countries.
(Reporting by Tuvan Gumrukcu; Editing by Jonathan Spicer and Angus MacSwan)