Despite Western attempts to stifle Russia’s economy through sanctions following its invasion of Ukraine last year, Russian trade volumes with dozens of countries have actually increased since the war began — with NATO member Turkey providing a “critical” economic lifeline for Moscow, according to an analysis by the Washington-based Atlantic Council, wrote VoA in July.
Growing violations of Russia sanctions via Caucasian, Central Asian states as well as Turkey attracted US attention, which introduced successive rounds of punishments on companies and individuals from these countries. Some central Asian states like Kazakhstan and Georgia banned re-exports to Russia, but allegedly trade in dual-use goods continues through Turkey.
The United States on last Thursday imposed a new round of sanctions on 130 firms and people from Turkey, China and the United Arab Emirates in an effort to choke off Russia’s access to tools and equipment that support its invasion of Ukraine.
Thursday’s sanctions targets include Turkish national Berk Turken and his firms, which are alleged to have ties to Russian intelligence. The Treasury Department said Turken’s network arranged payments and shipping details designed to bypass sanctions and move goods from Turkey to Russia.
Dutch products ending up in Russia via Turkey
Dutch companies seem to be circumventing the European sanctions against Russia over the war in Ukraine by exporting products to the country via Turkey. The export of Dutch products to Russia has decreased since the sanctions. At the same time, Dutch exports to Turkey increased explosively. In the second quarter of this year, 869 million euros of Dutch sanctioned goods went to Turkey – 91 percent more than two years earlier, Statistics Netherlands (CBS) reported.
Due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the EU banned the export of goods like microchips, transport equipment, machines, and drones from EU countries to Russia.
Dutch-made exports to Russia amounted to 285 million euros in the second quarter of 2023, 63 percent lower than two years earlier, before the invasion. At the same time, exports of Dutch products to Turkey and the Eurasian Economic Union Countries (EEU+) – Kazakhstan, Belarus, Armenia, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan – grew by 42 and 75 percent respectively.
In Q2 of 2021, Russia was the second largest buyer of Dutch office machines like word processors, calculators, and cash registers, accounting for 10 percent of exports valued at 19.3 million euros. The sanctions cover these machines. Two years later, no more Dutch office machines were exported to Russia. In that same period, Turkey’s share of Dutch office machine exports grew from 3.5 percent to 10 percent, with an export value of 15 million euros.
Trucks and buses are also on the sanctions list. In the second quarter of 2021, Russia had a 1.8 percent share in the export of Dutch trucks and buses, valued at around 11 million euros. Here, too, exports to Russia stopped, but exports to Turkey increased from 0.5 percent in Q2 of 2021 to 3 percent in this year’s second quarter.
“Trucks and buses were also exported more to the EEU+ countries. The export value in the second quarter of 2023 was over 35 times higher than two years earlier,” CBS said. The export values of Dutch trucks and buses to Turkey and EEU+ countries amounted to 7 million and 23 million euros, respectively, in the second quarter of this year.
Turkey’s $20 bn F-16 order in jeopardy
After a brief turn to West after his May triumph in dual elections, President Erdogan turned anti-West once again, by openly declaring his country’s unconditional support for HAMAS and delaying the ratification of Swedish accession to NATO in the parliament. Monday’s meeting between US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and his Turkish counterpart Hakan Fidan reportedly didn’t produce a breakthrough.
As it stands, two of the US Congressional committee heads who are instrumental in the approval of the F-16 sale are not committed to do so. At least one members made it clear that the ratification of Swedish accession is only one of the conditions for his blessing of the sale. Erdogan’s very loud and crass support of HAMAS and increasing evidence of large-scale sanctions by-passing to Russia by Turkish firms could kill the sale.
PA Turkey staff
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