Ankara (Reuters) – Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday that reaction from NATO and Western countries to Russia’s assault on Ukraine had not been decisive, adding he hoped a NATO summit on Friday would lead to a more determined approach from the alliance.
NATO member Turkey borders Ukraine and Russia in the Black Sea and has good ties with both. It has called on Russia to end its attack and voiced support for Ukraine’s territorial integrity.
“It should not turn into an ordinary flurry of condemnation. NATO should have taken a more decisive step,” Erdogan said after Friday prayers in Istanbul.
“The EU and all Western mentalities did not show a seriously determined stance, they are all constantly advising Ukraine,” he told reporters. “It is not possible to get anywhere with advice. When you look at the steps taken, there are no steps taken.”
Despite a wave of sanctions from the West on Russia, Turkey has said it opposes such moves. It has also avoided using words such as “condemn” in its reaction or “invasion” to describe what is happening, instead saying Moscow’s attack was “unacceptable”.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy urged Europe on Friday to act more quickly and forcefully in imposing sanctions on Moscow for invading Ukraine, accusing western allies of politicking as Moscow’s forces advanced on Kyiv.
On Thursday, Ukraine asked Turkey to close the Bosphorus and Dardanelles straits, linking the Mediterranean and Black sea, to Russia under a 1936 pact. But Ankara said on Friday it could not stop Russian vessels from going into the Black Sea as it had the right to return ships to their bases under the accord.
While forging close cooperation with Russia on defence and energy, Turkey has also sold drones to Ukraine and signed a deal to co-produce more. Ankara also opposes Russian policies in Syria and Libya, as well as its annexation of Crimea in 2014.
On Thursday, Erdogan, who previously offered to mediate the crisis, said he was “sincerely saddened” by Moscow’s invasion, which he said was a “heavy blow” to regional peace.