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Financial Expert: Turkish Businesses Won't Miss Lucrative Opportunities in Russia Despite US Threats

© POOL / Go to the mediabankRussian President V. Putin after talks with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan
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The US Treasury Department intensified pressure on NATO ally Turkey after it continued to maintain strong ties with Moscow regardless of sweeping western sanctions imposed on Russia. Turkish financial expert Şevket Apuhan told Sputnik that Turkish investors will not stop cooperating with Russia.
"Turkish entrepreneurs have already whetted their appetite," said Şevket Apuhan, a Turkish financial expert. "I do not think that any investor in Turkey, with the exception of organizations that work closely with the United States and American banks, will be able to miss the opportunities that are opening up in Russia today. Today, the world is in a difficult situation, and Turkey can overcome these difficulties thanks to Russia. We will not give up this prospect just because the US demands it."
The Wall Street Journal reported on August 22 that Deputy Secretary of the Treasury Wally Adeyemo had informed the American Chamber of Commerce in Turkey that Turkish companies were at risk of US sanctions if they did business with sanctioned Russians.
Washington has dramatically toughened sanctions on Russia in the aftermath of Moscow's special military operation to demilitarize and de-Nazify Ukraine, which was launched on February 24.
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Last week, Ademayo also spoke with his Turkish counterpart, Deputy Finance Minister Yunus Elitas, expressing discontent with what he called Russia’s “use” of Turkey "to evade sanctions put in place by the United States and 30 countries."
Turkish media outlet Daily Sabah quoted the Turkish Industry and Business Association (TÜSIAD) on August 24 as saying that it received a letter from the US warning of the possible risk of restrictions if it established relations with sanctioned Russian entities and individuals. TÜSIAD said that it shared Adeyemo's letter with the Turkish Foreign Ministry, Treasury and Finance Ministry and Trade Ministry.
For his part, the Turkish Finance Ministry said in an official statement that Yunus Elitas had stressed Turkey's deep economic and political relations with both Russia and Ukraine while speaking with Ademayo.
“Elitaş confirmed that Türkiye’s position has not changed regarding the current processes and sanctions, but that it would not allow the breaching of sanctions by any institution or person,” the ministry stated.
The Turkish outlet also highlighted that trade between Ankara and Moscow "has been booming since spring", with the value of Turkish exports to Russia between May and July rising by nearly 50% from last year. The Daily Sabah explained that Turkish companies stepped in to fill the void created by EU businesses which left Russia after the beginning of the special military operation in Ukraine.
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Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan met in early August in the Russian resort city of Sochi and agreed to step up business cooperation. They also concorded that more Turkish banks should start processing Russia’s Mir payments system operated by Russia's National Payment Card System (NPCS). The latter was established by the Bank of Russia in 2014 and has taken on a new importance after Russia was severed from SWIFT under western sanctions. Turkey started to accept Mir cards at its ATMs and Point-of-Sale Terminals in 2019.
Earlier, Erdogan stated that Ankara would not jump on the West's anti-Russia sanctions bandwagon because Turkey is dependent on Russia's energy imports, with the two economies being intertwined. The Turkish president stressed that imposing sanctions on Russia would harm the Turkish economy in a dramatic way.
"First of all, it should be noted that Turkey is pursuing an absolutely correct policy regarding the Ukrainian crisis," said Apuhan. "The West now more than ever needs Turkey, but nevertheless does not intend to give up its inherent duplicity. For example, all Western companies tend to buy cheap gas and oil from Russia. Investors continue to earn money from transactions with Russia through other countries. The situation is that they want to receive money themselves, and Turkey's losses do not bother them at all."
He noted that the US does not want other countries to build relationships without their permission. Washington is trying to prevent other players from developing a road map in their own national interests, according to Apuhan.
"The US seeks to make the whole world work for [Washington's] benefit," he said. "When another country refuses this 'offer' and declares its own interests, then the problems begin. This is the essence of US policy."
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