Turkey stops transit of sanctioned goods to Russia

Turkey stops transit of sanctioned goods to Russia
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Turkish customs system started to block clearance of the sanctioned goods to Russia, Kommersant FM reported

Turkish customs officials have suddenly stopped allowing the transit of sanctioned goods to Russia through Turkish territory, Russian radio station Kommersant FM reported Thursday, citing Russian logistics companies.

Such a move came as a surprise to the market, its participants, who are urgently looking for alternative routes, Kommersant FM said.

The U.S. government last week called on Turkey among other countries to ensure they comply with sanctions, warning that a failure to do so could lead to potential prosecution or enforcement actions.

In August, NATO-member Turkey reported the value of its exports to Russia had exceeded $738 million in one month, setting an all-time record.

“We are not expecting to receive any official orders or decrees because then Turkey would have to admit that it was linked to facilitating [illegal] shipments of sanctioned goods to Russia over the past year,” Valeriya Savenkova, commercial director of Transasia Logistics, said according to Kommersant FM.

“As of today, Turkey’s system for processing transit and export shipments to Russia isn't working,” she added.

The managing director of transport logistics operator Optimalog, Georgiy Vlastopulo, told the radio station that previously booked transport operations from Turkey to Russia had been on hold since Wednesday.

“Last night we started to receive notifications that Turkish customs are preventing the processing of transit goods of non-Turkish origin,” Kommersant FM cited Vlastopulo as saying.

Kommersant FM’s source cited pressure from U.S. officials as a probable reason for Turkey’s sudden policy switch.

On March 2, the U.S. departments of Justice, Commerce and Treasury said in a joint notice that businesses should be aware of tactics being used to skirt restrictions and sanctions on Russia, including the use of shell companies, aliases, and obscured shipping information, among other warning signs.

The guidance mentioned countries like China, Armenia, Turkey and Uzbekistan as those used as "transshipment points" to "illegally redirect restricted items to Russia or Belarus."

"Businesses of all stripes should act responsibly by implementing rigorous compliance controls," the joint notice added.

The United States, Europe and other partners have imposed a host of sanctions on a range of individuals and entities after Russian troops invaded Ukraine one year ago, seeking to inflict an economic toll on Moscow. Sanctions freeze any U.S. assets and prevent business being conducted with sanctioned parties.