United States warns Turkish businesses over deals with sanctioned Russians - WSJ

The U.S. government has warned Turkish businesses against working with Russian sanctioned institutions and individuals, according to a report published in the Wall Street Journal on Monday, in increased pressure on the NATO member country over its deepening ties with Russia.

An August 22 letter addressing the American Chamber of Commerce in Turkey, signed off by Deputy Secretary of Treasury Wally Adeyemo, warned Turkish companies of the threat of U.S. sanctions over possible business deals with sanctioned Russian nationals, the WSJ said.

While denouncing Russia’s offensive against Ukraine, Turkey, unlike most other NATO countries, has stopped short of slapping punitive measures on Russia and is seeking to mediate between the two warring sides in the hope of brokering a peace deal or a ceasefire.

“Any individuals or entities providing material support to US-designated persons are themselves at risk of US sanctions,” it cited Adeyemo as saying in the letter reviewed by WSJ. The U.S. official also urged Turkish banks against correspondence relationships with sanctioned Russian banks, it said.

An identical letter to Turkey’s top business association, the Turkish Industry and Business Association (TÜSIAD), WSJ cited a person familiar with the correspondence as saying. 

Earlier this month, Russian President Vladimir Putin  and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdoğan agreed to boost cooperation in the transport, agriculture and construction industries, following a meeting in Russia’s southern city of Sochi. 

The pair also agreed to switch part of payments for Russian gas to the rouble currency, Reuters reported.

The intensifying economic ties between Turkey and Russia is sparking fear among Western states, which are warning of the mounting risk of Ankara facing potential punitive retaliation if it assists Moscow in avoiding sanctions, the Financial Times reported earlier this month.

“Please be advised that relationships with sanctioned Russian actors may expose Turkish financial institutions and businesses to sanctions risk,” Adeyemo wrote.

The United States has already imposed penalties on Turkey’s defence industry over its Russian S-400 missile purchase, saying the Russian system could be used to gather intelligence on Lockheed Martin Corp.’s F-35 stealth jet. 

Washington had previously suspended Turkish defence contractors from the international program to help build the F-35 fighter jets.

The Turkish foreign ministry did not immediately respond to questions about the letter, the WSJ said. 

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