US pressures Turkish banks, Ankara and Moscow work on alternative methods

US pressures Turkish banks, Ankara and Moscow work on alternative methods

Türkiye has opposed Western sanctions against Moscow. Bilateral trade grew almost 100% from 2021 to 2022 to $68 billion according to Turkish Ministry of Trade. Turkish companies have investments in construction, textiles and household appliances in Russia, which in turn supplies a large part of the energy consumed by Türkiye. But in December of last year President Biden signed the executive order threatening companies that helped Russia evade sanctions.

Yusuf Tuncer , Journalist of the Turkish newspaper Aydınlık says: “We discovered that employees of the American consulate in Istanbul personally visited Turkish companies, asking them why they handled trade with Russia. Employees confirmed the visits but declined to comment.”

The companies, which declined to identify themselves due to worries about repercussions, produce agricultural and textile machines. The US authorities invited others to the consulate for talks, adds Yusuf Tunçer. Exports to Russia fell by 37% in the first two months of 2024 according to the Türkiye Exporters Assembly. The great pressure is on the payment system.

According Recep Erçin, President of the Association of Economy Journalists, there is pressure on Turkish banks: “The United States now defines any financial interaction with Russia as “suspicious action.” For a Turkish bank taking out syndicated loans this means an investigation by Washington. With payments from Russia, you have to submit an explanation to the US.”

Biden’s executive order threatens to exclude entities from the US financial system. For their part, media reports that Turkish banks have begun to close Russian corporate accounts.

“Banks have compliance departments. The people there manage the connection with SWIFT. Businessmen reported to us about employees who passed all types of commercial and even personal information to Americans”, says Tunçer.

In February, the Kremlin called US pressure on Türkiye aggressive, brazen and unprecedented. The Turkish state bank, Halkbank, has been under US trial since 2019 for having evaded sanctions against Iran.

“Payment for exports arrives from Russia to the Turkish bank. But the businessman is not paid, putting his entire company and production at risk.”

Russian sources in the oil sector told the Reuters agency that they had not received a payment from Türkiye for 3 weeks. The Deputy Secretary of the Treasury of the United States, Ademeyo assured the order has taken effect. But Türkiye and Russia are working on alternatives, informs Recep Erçin:

“The two governments have on the agenda the founding of a bilateral bank. We even have some information that has already been founded, but it is not official yet. Opening ruble-Turkish lira accounts in central banks is also being discussed.”

In 2023, 6 million tourists arrived from Russia to Türkiye. There is an agreement not so that they do not have payment problems.

“The Turkish payment system, Troy, has already been introduced in Russia. The Russians can already load cash there on these cards and use them to pay for services here”, explains Erçin.

Yunus Soner

Political Scientist, former Deputy Chairman of Vatan Party (Türkiye) Soner has participated in diplomatic visits to China, Syria, Iran, Egypt, Russia, Venezuela, Cuba and Mexico, among others. He has conducted meetings with President Bashar Al Assad (Syria), President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (Iran), President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (Mexico), Manuel Zelaya (Honduras) and Foreign Ministers, Ministers of Finances and Representatives of Parliament from various countries. He has worked on Turkish-Russian, Turkish-Syrian, Turkish-Chinese and Turkish-Egyptian relations as well as on Latin America. Soner has had media participation in various international media channels, among them Russia Today and Sputnik (Russia), CGTN (China), Press TV (Iran), Syrian TV, El Mayaddin (Lebanon) and Telesur (Venezuela) and Turkish media. He has been a columnist to Turkish daily newspaper Aydınlık




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April 2024