U.S. undersecretary warns Turkey: You may lose access to G7 markets

U.S. undersecretary warns Turkey: You may lose access to G7 markets
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U.S. Under Secretary Brian Nelson concluded his Turkey meetings and warned of possible sanctions in the case that Turkey violations the ban on weapons exports to Russia.

Arti Gercek reports that Brian Nelson, U.S. Department of State’s Under Secretary of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence for the US Ministry of Finance, completed his meetings in Istanbul and Ankara, which he held on Thursday and Friday, regarding the agenda of the Russian sanctions.

An anonymous senior US official knowledgeable about the matter who spoke to Reuters, said that Nelson had talks with Turkish government officials and private sector representatives about the export of chemicals, microchips, and other products to Russia that could be used in the Moscow administration's war in Ukraine. He warned Turkey and said that sanctions could be imposed on these institutions if the bans were violated.

Emphasizing that tens of millions of dollars of exports to Russia cause concern, US official Nelson and his delegation said, "This is not a surprise. No one should be surprised that Russia actively wants to take advantage of its historical economic ties with Turkey. The question is, what will Turkey's response be?”

Speaking to Reuters, the senior official said that in conversations with Turkish firms, Nelson pointed to the way Russia is believed to have evaded Western control to resupply plastics, rubber, and semiconductors found in exported goods and used by the military. He added that after taking steps last year to pressure Russia to end the war, the United States is now focusing on "kidnapping, especially in third countries.”


According to VOA Turkish, Nelson announced that he met with the Banks Association of Turkey on the Istanbul leg of his visit to discuss the international sanctions imposed on Russia due to the Ukraine war. In his speech, the U.S. Treasury Department's Undersecretary of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence underlined the joint effort to address vulnerabilities in the fight against money laundering and terrorist financing. According to the transcript published on the ministry's official website, Undersecretary Nelson warned that Turkish companies and banks doing business with sanctioned Russian institutions "could put themselves at risk of sanctions and a potential loss of access to G7 market.”


Stating that the real estate sector is one of the sectors most open to the abuse of illegal actors in Turkey and the United States, Nelson said that the private sector should subject real estate transactions to strict scrutiny in order to prevent money laundering on luxury real estate. Brian Nelson reminded that they had warned the private sector in America against the possibility of sanctioned Russian oligarchs investing in real estate. Stating that they understand that Turkey is dependent on energy imports and agricultural product trade from Russia, the US undersecretary drew attention to the increase in exports of second-degree products from Turkey to Russia in the last year. The American official warned that this situation makes the private sector in Turkey vulnerable to the risk of sanctions. Stating that Russian businessmen continue to buy real estate and yachts in Turkey, the American official called for stricter control in transactions with Russian institutions and individuals in order to reduce the risk of sanctions.

“Such due diligence should go beyond checking the U.S. and other sanctions lists. The screening should also capture any companies and proxies that sanctioned Russian and Belarusian actors use as fronts for their transactions,” said Nelson.


Although NATO member Turkey opposes sanctions against Russia in principle, the pressures forced Ankara to take some measures. Lastly, Havas, one of Turkey's largest ground handling companies, sent a letter to Belarusian and Russian airlines on January 31, stating that it may stop providing service to US-made aircraft they use in order to comply with the export controls imposed by the US due to the Ukraine war. Havas also advised Russian airlines to plan their flights from now on with planes using less than 25 percent American technology. Turkey's major airport ground handling service provider, Havas, operates in Turkey's largest cities such as Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir, and Adana.

The Wall Street Journal reported in January that Turkish individuals or institutions are subject to sanctions, such as fines, imprisonment, or loss of export privileges, if senior American officials provide services such as refueling and spare parts to US-made aircraft from Russia and Belarus in December. In September, five Turkish private and public banks announced that they stopped using Russia’s local payment system “Mir.”