Turkey has agreed to stop the transit of sanctioned western goods to Russia after pressure from the G7, a senior US official said, cautioning that Washington will monitor Ankara’s trade data with Moscow in anticipation of a drop.
James O’Brien, head of the US State Department’s Office of Sanctions Coordination, told Reuters that Turkish officials have been “very clear” with various governments and agencies that they have put in place a ban on the re-export of sanctioned goods to Russia.
But Washington was yet to see the impact of the change, he said.
“It will take us some time to see it, but we will see trade data from March and April and we will expect to see this trade dropping dramatically,” O’Brien said.
“It’s the numbers. That’s all I care about.”
The United States and its allies imposed extensive sanctions on Russia following its invasion of Ukraine, but supply channels have remained open from Black Sea neighbor Turkey and other trading hubs, including Hong Kong.
The Turkish government handed companies a list of banned foreign goods and instructed them not to transship those to Russia from March 1, the Istanbul Ferrous and Nonferrous Metals Exporters Association said last month.
The policy comes after Washington and other members of the G7 bloc of wealthy nations have worked to persuade third countries to restrict sales of items that Russia can reuse on the battlefield.
Kazakhstan, UAE also eyed
NATO alliance member Ankara has sought to maintain good relations with both Moscow and Kyiv amid the war.
It opposes the sanctions on principle but has said they will not be circumvented in Turkey and that no shipped products can be used by Russia’s military.
Several senior US officials, including US Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo, have traveled to Turkey since the invasion and have issued warnings to Turkish businesses and banks to enforce US curbs on Russia.
O’Brien said Kazakhstan has also announced a policy to review and identify trade that might violate sanctions, adding Washington expects to see improvements there.
The United Arab Emirates, too, said it will look at its trade with Russia but has not committed to taking action, O’Brien said. Washington has previously said there is “poor sanctions compliance” in the United Arab Emirates.
“We’re making clear this is a very high priority for the G7 – Russia is using these goods to make weapons,” said O’Brien.
He added that because items are ultimately bound for the Russian military, anyone associated with the transactions in the UAE could be violating sanctions.