The United States Warning Türkiye of exporting certain materials to Russia
The United States has warned Türkiye over the past two days against exporting chemicals, microchips and other products to Russia that could be used in its war effort in Ukraine, indicating that it may move to punish Turkish companies and banks that violate the sanctions.
Brian Nelson, the top sanctions official at the US Treasury Department, met with government and private sector officials in Türkiye on Thursday and Friday to urge more cooperation in disrupting the flow of these goods.
In a speech addressed to bankers, Nelson said that a marked increase over the course of a year in exports to Russia makes Turkish entities particularly exposed to reputational risks and sanctions, or losing access to the markets of the Group of Seven countries.
He added, according to a copy of his letter released by the Treasury Department that they should take additional precautions to avoid transactions associated with potential transfers of dual-use technology that could be used by the Russian military-industrial complex.
A senior US official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that Nelson and his delegation highlighted, during meetings in Ankara and Istanbul, tens of millions of dollars in exports to Russia that are of concern.
“It’s not surprising… that Russia is aggressively seeking to benefit from the historical economic ties it has with Türkiye… The question is what will be the Turkish response,” he added.
Türkiye is a NATO member, opposes sweeping sanctions against Russia in principle, but says they won’t be evaded in Türkiye and has urged the West to provide evidence.
Western countries imposed export controls and sanctions after the war in Ukraine, which began nearly a year ago.
However, supply channels remained open from Hong Kong, Türkiye and other trading hubs, according to Reuters.
Citing Russian customs records, in December that components for computers and other electronic components worth at least $2.6 billion had flowed into Russia in the seven months to Oct. 31.
Western companies made at least $777 million worth of these products, and chips from these companies have been found in Russian weapons systems.
Ankara balanced its good relations with both Moscow and Kiev during the war, holding early talks between the two sides and also helping broker an agreement to allow grain shipments from Ukraine.
The visit of Nelson, Undersecretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, is the latest to Türkiye by a senior US official with the aim of intensifying pressure on it to ensure the application of US restrictions on Russia.
Havas, Türkiye’s largest ground services provider, has told airlines in Russia and Belarus that it may stop providing spare parts, fuel and other services for its US-made planes in line with the Western ban, Reuters reported Friday, citing a letter from the company dated January 31.
In September, five Turkish banks suspended use of the Russian payment system, MIR, after the US Treasury Department targeted the head of the system’s operating entity with new sanctions and warned those helping Moscow not to circumvent it.
Nelson urged Turkish bankers to scrutinize transactions linked to Russia, and noted in his speech that wealthy Russians continue to buy real estate and dock yachts in Türkiye.
In separate conversations with Turkish companies, the official said, Nelson indicated how Russia was believed to be circumventing Western restrictions to resupply plastics, rubber and semiconductors found in exported goods used by the military.
He added that after taking steps last year to pressure Moscow to end the war, the focus of the United States is now on evading sanctions.