by Raffaele Severini
The United States recently issued a warning to Turkey over the export of chemicals, microchips and other products to Russia that could be used for the Russian military effort in Ukraine. The US Treasury Department’s top sanctions official, Brian Nelson, recently visited Turkey to discuss cooperation in disrupting these exports. In a speech to Turkish bankers, Nelson highlighted that the increase in exports to Russia over the past year has left Turkish entities open to potential reputational and sanctions risks, and therefore, he urged extra caution to be taken in avoiding transactions related to dual-use technology transfers that could be utilized by the Russian military-industrial complex.
NATO member, Turkey, has opposed the sanctions imposed on Russia by the West, but has also stated that they will not be circumvented in Turkey. The Turkish government has been balancing its good relationships with both Russia and Ukraine throughout the ongoing conflict, holding early peace talks and even brokering a deal for grain shipments from Ukraine.
The visit by Nelson, the Treasury’s undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, is one of several recent trips by senior US officials to Turkey aimed at increasing pressure on Ankara to enforce US sanctions on Russia. The pressure has resulted in some changes, such as Turkey’s largest ground-service provider, Havas, informing Russian and Belarusian airlines that it may stop providing parts, fuel and other services to their US-origin aircraft in line with Western sanctions.
In September, five Turkish banks suspended use of the Russian Mir payment system after the US Treasury targeted the head of the system’s operator with new sanctions and warned against those who were helping Moscow evade the sanctions. Nelson urged the Turkish bankers to conduct enhanced due diligence on Russian-related transactions, and mentioned in his speech that Russian oligarchs continue to buy properties and dock their yachts in Turkey.
As a NATO member and a significant player in the region, Turkey plays a crucial role in ensuring the enforcement of US sanctions on Russia. It is important for Turkish entities to exercise caution in their business dealings with Russia, particularly in regards to dual-use technology transfers, to avoid potential reputational and sanctions risks. The US will continue to work with Turkey to monitor the situation and ensure compliance with the sanctions, for the benefit of both the US and Turkey, as well as to contribute to peace and stability in the region.
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