US threatened Turkey with sanctions for aiding Russia

The United States has warned Turkey of the “real risk” of sanctions for helping Russia circumvent Western-imposed restrictions, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing U.S. officials and Western diplomats.

Turkey, which has not joined the sanctions and maintains contacts with the Kremlin, has become one of the largest anti-sanctions hubs for Russian companies, and this is increasingly worrying the U.S. authorities, the WSJ said.

U.S. electronics, which have fallen under the ban, are delivered to Russia through Turkey, and Russian vessels, including those carrying weapons, that have fallen under sanctions, call at Turkish ports. In addition, the Russian “shadow fleet” operates through Turkey, transporting oil to buyers in Asia with the violation of the price ceiling of the G7 countries.

The U.S. is working with the Turkish government and private companies and has warned them of the “very real risks” of sanctions, a Western diplomat told the WSJ.

“We have an ongoing dialog with the Turkish government on these issues. And we sincerely hope to avoid a scenario in which a Turkish company is hit by sanctions”, he added.

The U.S. administration is seeking to strengthen sanctions enforcement in Turkey and Middle Eastern countries, the WSJ writes. In June, companies from the UAE, which, according to the U.S., were involved in gold deals to finance the Wagner PMC, were blacklisted. Under American pressure, subsidiaries of Russian banks, including Sber and MTS Bank, stopped working in Dubai.

In spring, the U.S. authorities targeted the structures managing the “shadow fleet” of dozens of oil tankers that export raw materials from Russian ports. In April, India-registered Gatik Ship Management, which became a major oil transporter from Russia and had assembled a fleet of 48 tankers worth $1.4 billion, was left without international insurance.

One more shadow tanker operator may operate in Turkey – Beks Ship Management, which after the war started in Ukraine acquired 17 vessels, mostly old ones. And now its fleet has 41 tankers and is valued at $800 million – 10 times higher than in 2021.

As of February, Beks was the fourth-largest carrier of Russian oil by volume. And in recent months, according to Kpler, it has been moving crude out of the port of Kozmino, where barrels from Russia are selling at prices above the “ceiling”. A Beks official told WSJ that the company does not only work with Russia.

A RIA Novosti source in Ankara confirmed that the U.S. is in contact with Turkish authorities about possible sanctions.

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