U.S. warns Turkey on exports seen to boost Russia's war effort
The United States has warned Turkey in recent days against exporting chemicals, microchips, and other products to Russia that can be used in Moscow's war effort in Ukraine, and it could punish Turkish companies or banks that violate the sanctions.
Brian Nelson, the U.S. Treasury Department's sanctions official, visited representatives of the Turkish government and private sector on Thursday and Friday to urge them to cooperate more in disrupting the flow of such goods.
In a speech to bankers, Nelson said the years-long surge in exports to Russia made Turkish companies "particularly vulnerable to reputational and sanctions risks" or loss of access to G7 markets.
They should "exercise particular caution to avoid transactions related to potential transfers of dual-use technologies that could be exploited by the Russian military-industrial complex," Nelson said in a copy of the speech released by the Treasury Department.
"It is no surprise that Russia is actively trying to exploit its historic economic ties with Turkey," the official said. "The question is how Turkey will respond to this"
NATO member Ankara opposes the sweeping sanctions against Russia in principle, but says they cannot be circumvented in Turkey and calls on the West to provide evidence.
Western countries imposed the export controls and sanctions after Moscow's invasion nearly a year ago. Still, supply channels have remained open from Hong Kong, Turkey and other trading hubs.
As Bloomberg reported, citing anonymous sources, dozens of Turkish exporters shipped about $800 million worth of goods to Russia between March and October last year, including $300 million worth of machinery and $80 million worth of electronics.
Nelson urged Turkish bankers to conduct more due diligence in transactions with Russia, pointing out in his speech that Russian oligarchs continue to buy real estate and invest yachts in Turkey.
In separate discussions with Turkish companies, Nelson "urgently" pointed to the way Russia is believed to be circumventing Western controls to resupply plastics, rubber, and semiconductors contained in exported goods used by the military.