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U.S. Sanctions Five Turkish Firms in Broad Russia Action on Over 100 Targets

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In a significant move, the Biden administration has imposed sanctions on multiple Turkish companies and a Turkish national. These actions are rooted in accusations of aiding Russia in evading sanctions and supporting Moscow’s war efforts in Ukraine.

Targeting Key Players

The designations, first unveiled by Reuters, specifically focus on shipping and trade entities. These companies are alleged to have played a role in repairing vessels previously sanctioned by Russia’s defense ministry and facilitating the transfer of “dual-use goods.” This action is part of a broader package of measures targeting approximately 150 entities, including Russia’s largest car manufacturer.

Delicate Diplomacy

This development occurs at a sensitive juncture for U.S.-Turkey relations. The United States is holding out hope that Ankara will support Sweden’s NATO membership bid when the Turkish parliament reconvenes in early October.

A Persistent Issue

Despite extensive sanctions imposed by the United States and its allies against Russia after the invasion of Ukraine, supply channels from Black Sea neighbor Turkey and other trading hubs have remained open. Washington has repeatedly cautioned against the export of chemicals, microchips, and other products that could be used in Moscow’s war efforts.

Diplomatic Efforts

High-ranking U.S. officials, including Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo, have made multiple visits to Turkey since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. Their aim is to exert pressure on Turkish companies, discouraging them from aiding Russia in circumventing U.S. sanctions. “For the past 18 months, we’ve shared our concerns with the Turkish government and private sector and informed them of the significant risks of doing business with those we’ve sanctioned who are tied to Russia’s war,” disclosed a senior Treasury official, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

A Clear Message

“These designations reflect our ongoing commitment to target individuals and entities who provide material support to sanctioned entities,” the official emphasized.

Blocking Dual-Use Goods

The U.S. Treasury Department has taken action against Margiana Insaat Dis Ticaret and Demirci Bilisim Ticaret Sanayi, asserting that these Turkish companies have been integral to Russia’s importation of “much-needed dual-use goods” for its unprovoked war of aggression in Ukraine. The former has reportedly made numerous shipments to sanctioned Russian entities involved in the supply chain for manufacturing military drones used in the Ukraine conflict. Meanwhile, the latter has been implicated in sending sensors and measuring tools to Russia.

Limited Response

As of now, Reuters has been unable to reach these companies for comment.

Expanding the Sanctions Net

The U.S. State Department has also entered the fray, imposing sanctions on Denkar Ship Construction for providing ship repair services to vessels previously designated by a company linked to the Russian Defense Ministry. Denkar has yet to respond to requests for comment. The State Department’s sanctions extend to Turkey-based shipyard agency ID Ship Agency and its owner Ilker Dogruyol, along with CTL Limited, which the State Department alleges acts as an intermediary for shipping electronic components of U.S. and European origin to Russian companies. The firms and Dogruyol have not issued immediate comments.

A Wider Scope

This comprehensive sanctions package encompasses Russia’s industrial base, maritime sector, and technology suppliers, as well as facilities involved in the production and repair of Russian weapons systems. Avtovaz, Russia’s largest car manufacturer, finds itself among the targets, while Gaz Group, another automotive manufacturer, faces a new round of sanctions. Avtovaz has yet to respond to requests for comment.

Targeting Economic Sectors

The United States has expanded its sanctions to encompass a major local copper producer – Russian Copper Company. In addition, a Finland-based network specializing in shipping foreign electronics to Russia-based end-users has come under scrutiny. The Treasury has imposed sanctions on logistics firms Siberica Oy and Luminor Oy, both based in Finland, accusing them of facilitating the shipment of a wide variety of electronics to Russia.

NATO Membership at Stake

Turkey, a member of NATO, is navigating a delicate diplomatic balancing act between Moscow and Kyiv amid the ongoing war. While it opposes sanctions in principle, Turkey has affirmed that they will not be circumvented on its soil, and no shipped products will aid Russia’s military efforts.

A Stalled Process

Tensions have strained relations between the U.S. and Turkey over the latter’s reluctance to support Sweden and Finland’s bids to join NATO after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. While Finland’s membership was secured in April, Sweden’s application remains in limbo, hindered by Turkey and Hungary.

Political Complexities

Ankara has accused Sweden of harboring militants hostile to the Turkish state, primarily members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which is deemed a terrorist organization by Turkey, the European Union, and the United States. After months of objections, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan agreed at a NATO summit in July to advance Sweden’s NATO bid to the Turkish parliament for ratification. However, the exact timing of the approval remains uncertain.

U.S. Stance

The United States has consistently asserted that Sweden has taken adequate measures to address Turkey’s concerns and that its NATO membership should be granted without further delay. In conclusion, the Biden administration’s sanctions against Turkish companies underscore its commitment to curbing support for Russia’s actions in Ukraine. These measures add complexity to the delicate dance of diplomacy in the region, with the fate of NATO membership bids hanging in the balance.
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