Turkey says no need for concern over US sanctions warning

August 26, 2022 GMT

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Turkey’s finance minister said Friday there was no reason for Turkish businesses to be concerned by a warning about possible U.S. sanctions on companies dealing with already sanctioned Russian businesses.

The Turkish Industry and Business Association confirmed this week that it received a letter from U.S. Treasury Deputy Secretary Wally Adeyemo cautioning that Turkish companies risked consequences if they did business with Russians or Russian institutions that were under U.S. sanctions.

Since the start of the war in Ukraine six months ago, Turkey has tried to balance its close relations with both Russia and Ukraine, positioning itself as a mediator between the two.

The Turkish government criticized Russia’s actions in Ukraine and sold drones to Ukraine that played a significant role in deterring a Russian advance during the early stage of the conflict. But it has not joined the international sanctions against Russia.

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Turkey has said, however, that it would not allow international sanctions to be breached.

In a series of tweets, Turkish Treasury and Finance Minister Nureddin Nebati said it was “meaningless” for Turkish businesses to worry about the letter from Washington.

“Turkey is one of the most important political and economic power centers of the world. Our business world should feel the power of the state alongside it at all times,” the minister tweeted.

Earlier this month, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Sochi, Russia, where the two leaders vowed to further develop bilateral ties.

Putin noted at the time that Russian-Turkish trade doubled in the first five months of the year compared to the same period last year, a surge reflecting Moscow’s growing focus on ties with Ankara amid the bruising Western sanctions.

Faced with an economic crisis, Turkey is relying on Russia for trade and tourism. Russian gas covers 45% of Turkish energy needs, and Russia’s atomic agency is building Turkey’s first nuclear power plant.

Nebati, the finance minister, said Friday that Turkey is confident it can balance its ties with Russia and its international relations.

“We are determined to develop our commercial and economic relations with our neighbors in various sectors, especially in tourism, within a framework that is not subject to sanctions,” he tweeted.

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Follow AP’s coverage of the war in Ukraine at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine