Erdoğan says ‘provocative’ West should not understimate Russia

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan warned Western powers that their approach to the war in Ukraine was wrong and provocative.

“I say to those who underestimate Russia, you are doing it wrong. Russia is not a country to be taken lightly," Erdoğan said during a visit to Serbia on Wednesday, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.

Erdoğan, who leads a major NATO country seeking to strengthen its regional and global influence, has grown close to Russian President Vladimir Putin and has refused to sanction Moscow for its invasion of Ukraine. Meanwhile, he has squabbled with NATO members over the accession of Finland and Sweden, threatening to block their membership applications, made after the war broke out, unless they deport scores of so-called terrorist suspects to Turkey for trial.

Erdoğan said the West’s approach toward the Ukraine war had been wrong.

“I can clearly say that I do not find the attitude of the West to be correct,” he said. “Because there is a West that follows a policy based on provocation."

Erdoğan has become embroiled in a series of mini crises with countries including the United States and France in the past three years over issues including the Kurds in Syria, his purchase of a Russian missile system, and accusations of democratic backsliding in his country. He has accused unidentified Western powers of seeking to bring down his government or of supporting opposition groups or alleged terrorists. He is also embroiled in disputes with NATO member and neighbour Greece.

The Turkish president, who says he is remaining equidistant between Russia and Ukraine to help end the war, said countries were sending “whatever scrap they could find” to Ukraine, referring to Western military aid supplied to Kyiv.

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