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Erdogan: West worsening Ukraine crisis

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan makes a statement with his Ukrainian counterpart (unseen) after talks in Kiev, Ukraine, on February 3, 2022. (Photo by AFP)

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has slammed the West for worsening the crisis over Ukraine, also hitting out at the international media for exacerbating the conflict.

"Unfortunately, the West until now has not made any contribution to resolving this issue. I can say they are only making things worse," Turkish media quoted Erdogan as saying on Friday.

During an interview with reporters on his flight back from Kiev on Thursday, the Turkish leader also slammed US President Joe Biden's stance on the crisis, saying he "has not yet been able to demonstrate a positive approach."

Erdogan said no European leader had been able to resolve the issue, adding that Europe was suffering from "serious issues at the leadership level" after the departure of German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

He met Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy on Thursday and repeated Turkey's offer to mediate the crisis between Kiev and Moscow, which Zelenskiy welcomed. Erdogan also proposed to host a summit between Ukrainian and Russian leaders.

Speaking to reporters on his return flight, Erdogan said Putin had "responded positively" to the idea.

Elsewhere in his remarks, the Turkish leader also slammed the international media's coverage of the crisis, which has relied heavily on US intelligence assessments that Moscow dismisses and Kiev 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," the CNN Turk broadcaster quoted him as saying.

Russia and NATO have been at loggerheads over Ukraine. Western countries accuse Russia of planning an invasion of Ukraine amid a military buildup near the Ukrainian border. Moscow rejects the allegation and insists that the deployments are defensive in nature.

In December last year, the Russian government had demanded that the Western military alliance deny Ukraine membership and roll back its military deployments in Eastern Europe. Moscow also stressed that the US must not establish any military bases in the former Soviet states that are not part of NATO, and not form any bilateral military alliance with them.

Russia says the US and NATO have effectively ignored those concerns in written responses.

The US and the European Union have threatened tough sanctions against Kremlin in the event of an attack or invasion of Ukraine.

Kremlin officials, on the other hand, accuse the Western powers of Russiophobia, saying they have no right to lecture Moscow on how to act after expanding the NATO military alliance eastwards.

Russia has repeatedly reiterated that the expansion of the NATO military infrastructure in Ukraine constitutes a red line for Moscow and that any future expansion must exclude Ukraine and other former Soviet countries.

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