| 4 December 2023, Monday |

Türkiye downplays US sanctions threat over Russia ties

Türkiye’s Treasury and Finance Minister Nureddin Nebati told businesses on Friday they should not be concerned by the threat of sanctions that Washington warns will follow if they do business with sanctioned Russians.


Nebati’s Twitter comments represent Ankara’s first official response to a letter the US Treasury sent to Turkish businesses on Monday.


US Deputy Secretary of the Treasury Wally Adeyemo warned Turkish banks and companies they would face secondary sanctions if they cooperated with Russians sanctioned in response to the Kremlin’s invasion of Ukraine.


Türkiye leading TUSIAD business association said it received a letter from Adeyemo warning of possible sanctions risks if companies establish relations with sanctioned Russian entities and individuals.


Nebati said the letter should not “cause concern in our business circles,” adding that Türkiye is one of the world’s most important political and economic power centers.


NATO member Türkiye— on good terms with both Moscow and Kyiv — has tried to stay neutral in the conflict and refused to join the international sanctions.


US officials worry that sanctioned Russians are setting up Turkish entities to trade with the outside world.


Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin agreed to step up economic cooperation at a summit in the Black Sea resort of Sochi earlier this month.


The value of Türkiye’s trade with Russia shot up by nearly 50 percent between May and July.


A part of the US concern stems from Türkiye’s decision to transition to paying rubles for the natural gas it imports from the Kremlin-tied giant Gazprom.


Nebati underscored Ankara’s determination to develop its commercial relations with its neighbors in various sectors — especially tourism — within a framework that is not subject to sanctions.


Erdogan has argued that Türkiye must remain “neutral” in the conflict because its industries rely heavily on Russian energy imports.


In this context, Yeni Safak daily reported on Friday that the Central Intelligence Agency has “openly” threatened Turkish businessmen for trading with Russia, prying into their real estate deals over concerns about the potential circumvention of US sanctions.


The paper learned that the CIA’s Türkiye office chief allegedly called high-ranking construction-company employees, inquiring about transactions and other confidential details of recent real-estate purchases involving Russian entities or individuals.


According to the report, the CIA officer interviewed businessmen under the guise of monitoring the US-imposed anti-Russia sanctions.


He was interested to know the exact number of “houses sold to Russians,” what channels and currency were used for transactions, and whether the payments were made through a bank or cash-in-hand.

  • Asharq Al-Awsat