US ratchets up pressure on Turkey over ties with Russia

ANKARA — US officials have held talks with their Turkish counterparts over compliance with financial sanctions imposed on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine, the West’s latest move to pressure Ankara to take a tougher line against Moscow.

A delegation led by Ms. Elizabeth Rosenberg, assistant secretary for terrorist financing and financial crimes at the US Treasury Department, met with counterparts including officials from Turkey’s Treasury and Treasury Ministries and business groups during a trip to Ankara and Istanbul this week, according to a statement on Wednesday , which confirmed an earlier report by Bloomberg News.

In a selection released after the visit, the US Treasury Department said: “Rosenberg covered a range of issues including the sanctions and export controls imposed on Russia by a broad coalition of over 30 countries, energy security, anti-money laundering policies and combating the… financing of terrorism”.

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It said: “These meetings have reaffirmed the importance of a close partnership between the United States and Turkey to address the risks posed by sanctions evasion and other illicit financial activities.”

The visit comes a week after talks between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in the Kazakh capital, their fourth face-to-face meeting in as many months.

The two leaders agreed to strengthen energy ties and set up an international gas hub in Turkey, potentially positioning the country as a key route for Russian flows to Europe.

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Turkey’s deepening economic and trade ties with Russia, strengthened by friendly ties between Mr Erdogan and Mr Putin, has drawn the wrath of the West, which wants to forge a united international front to persuade Moscow to change its course to change Ukraine.

US Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo visited Turkey in June, part of President Joe Biden’s administration’s efforts to rally support for a crackdown on Russian assets abroad.

Mr Adeyemo later sent a letter to several Turkish business groups warning them of the impact of doing business in Russia.

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In September, the Treasury Ministry’s Office of Foreign Assets Control warned financial institutions about the risks of entering into new agreements or expanding existing ones with Russia’s Mir payment card operator.

This alerted Turkish officials, and all five Turkish banks participating in the scheme subsequently gave up.

Mr. Erdogan has strategic and well-established ties with both Kyiv and Moscow and has sought to position Turkey as a mediator in their war.

He has helped finalize agreements to resume grain shipments from Ukraine’s Black Sea ports and facilitated prisoner exchanges.

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