Turkiye's president on Friday strongly criticized the Western world over Russia’s 2014 invasion of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula, saying that a stronger response then could have prevented Moscow’s current war on Ukraine.
"If the whole West had raised a clamor against the invasion of Crimea in 2014, would we be facing today's picture?" Recep Tayyip Erdogan said at the opening ceremony of the three-day Antalya Diplomacy Forum in southern Turkiye.
In 2014, Russia annexed Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula, a move widely viewed as illegal by the international community, including Turkiye and the UN General Assembly.
Ukraine has been forsaken in its righteous cause, said the Turkish president as the Russia-Ukraine war marks its 16th day.
“Our hope is that moderation and common sense will prevail and the weapons will fall silent as soon as possible," he said of the war.
While supporting Ukrainians’ legitimate struggle, Erdogan spoke out against demonizing Russian art, literature, or performers, saying: "Fascist practices against Russian nationals and culture in Western countries can never be acceptable."
Russia’s war on Ukraine, which began on Feb. 24, has drawn international condemnation, led to financial sanctions on Moscow, and spurred an exodus of global firms from Russia.
At least 564 civilians have been killed and 982 others injured in Ukraine since Russia launched the war on Feb. 24, the UN has said, also cautioning that conditions on the ground make it difficult to verify the true number.
Over 2.5 million people have fled to neighboring countries, with about 2 million more estimated to be displaced inside Ukraine, according to the UN refugee agency.