WP: Russia has turned to Türkiye for help in circumventing sanctions

Anhelina Sheremet

Russia has turned to Türkiye for help in circumventing the sanctions imposed against it because of the war in Ukraine.

The US newspaper The Washington Post wrote about this on August 5 with reference to information from Ukrainian intelligence.

The Russian proposal, which was intercepted ahead of a meeting between the two leaders, indicates that Russia hopes that Turkey will agree to proposals that will help it avoid sanctions restrictions in the banking, energy, and industrial sectors.

The proposal calls on Erdoganʼs government to allow Russia to buy stakes in Turkish refineries, oil terminals and storage tanks, a move that economists say could help hide the origin of exports after the European Unionʼs oil embargo takes full effect next year. Russia is also demanding that several state-owned Turkish banks open correspondent accounts for the largest Russian banks, which economists and sanctions experts say would be a flagrant violation of Western sanctions, and that Russian industrial producers be allowed to operate in free economic zones in Turkey.

There is no sign that Türkiye will support these arrangements, as they would place the countryʼs own banks and companies at risk of secondary sanctions and cut off their access to Western markets. A high-ranking Turkish official, answering a question about the Russian proposal, did not go into its details but said that the country, as before, is "committed to the independence and sovereignty of Ukraine".

Western government officials, who also spoke on condition of anonymity, told the newspaper that they were not aware of the intercepted proposal but knew that Russia was looking for ways to circumvent war-related sanctions. According to them, Russian officials travel the world trying to find people who would be willing to do business with their financial institutions.

According to two Moscow businessmen, retail supply chains are already being rebuilt in Russia with the help of Türkiye. The owner of a large retail chain said that its outlets have completely reorganized their supply through new hubs in Türkiye, Israel, China, and Azerbaijan. Turkish government statistics show that monthly Turkish exports to Russia increased by about $400 million between February and June. But consumer goods aside, sanctions experts and Western officials doubt that Türkiye can become a hub for supplies of vital equipment without facing the risk of sanctions for doing so.