May 20, 2022

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Erdogan says NATO, Western reaction to Russian attack not decisive

Erdogan says NATO, Western reaction to Russian attack not decisive

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”.

On Friday, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told broadcaster NTV that Turkey had abstained in a vote at the Council of Europe to suspend Russia from the body. “We are on the side dialogue under all conditions,” he said.

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 seas, 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.

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HUMANITARIAN AID

Ukraine’s ambassador to Turkey, Vasyl Bodnar, said on Friday that Turkish and Ukrainian authorities are in contact to arrange delivery of emergency medical equipment and humanitarian aid to Ukraine, including food, medicine and tents.

Bodnar said Ukraine’s list of needs was presented to both the Turkish Foreign Ministry and Turkey’s Disaster and Emergency Authority (AFAD). “As lists come from Ukraine, we will continue conveying them to Turkish authorities,” he told reporters in Ankara.

In a phone call on Friday, Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar told his Ukrainian counterpart Oleksii Reznikov that Ankara was ready to provide humanitarian aid, his ministry said.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba also said that he had discussed “practical steps to strengthen Ukraine’s defence capabilities” with his Turkish counterpart on Friday.

Separately, Cavusoglu said Turkey had begun evacuating citizens from Ukraine by land and that around 2,500 people had requested evacuation.

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.