Surge In Turkey-Russia Military Goods Trade Raises Global Concerns

Turkey's exports of military-linked goods to Russia surge, raising global security concerns amidst the Ukraine conflict.

Why has Turkey's export of military goods to Russia increased?

Recent data reveals a significant increase in Turkey's exports of military-related goods to Russia, intensifying worries among the US and its allies. This surge challenges efforts by the West to limit Moscow's military capabilities, particularly in the context of the Ukraine conflict.

In a direct response to these developments, Brian Nelson, US Treasury under-secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, is scheduled to visit Turkey. His agenda includes addressing the trade activities bolstering Russia's military efforts against Ukraine.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Rising Trade And Regulatory Challenges

The first nine months of 2023 saw a threefold increase in Turkey's exports of certain "high-priority" goods to Russia and suspected intermediaries, compared to the same period in 2022. These goods, including microchips and communication equipment, are subject to strict export controls by the US, EU, UK, and Japan.

Turkey's imports of these goods from G7 countries also saw a 60% increase compared to previous years, highlighting the potential exploitation of regulatory gaps between US and EU export controls. Emily Kilcrease from the Center for a New American Security (CNAS) emphasized the need for stronger enforcement in third-party countries like Turkey.

A Complex Web Of Trade And Sanctions Evasion

Turkey, alongside the United Arab Emirates, often acts as a transit point for Russian entities circumventing sanctions. Discrepancies in trade data suggest that goods intended for former Soviet states are being rerouted directly to Russia.

This covert trade is of particular concern as these high-priority goods are used in Russian military equipment, such as cruise missiles and drones. Western officials have urged Turkey to limit this trade, and the US Treasury has recently raised this issue in its sanctions on Russia.

Turkey’s Balancing Act In International Trade And Diplomacy

While Turkey maintains strong ties with Russia, it has asserted its commitment to not aiding Moscow in evading Western sanctions. The Turkish foreign ministry stated that efforts to prevent sanction circumvention are integral to its policy, though some minor entities may still attempt evasion.

The case of Azint Elektronik, an Istanbul-based electronics supplier recently sanctioned by the US, illustrates the complexities of this trade. Russian customs data revealed significant sales of high-priority goods to Russia, which Azint claims were legal transactions.

Related: Turkey's Central Bank Hikes Rate to 35% Amid Soaring Inflation

Turkey’s Delicate Position In Global Politics

These trade tensions emerge at a critical juncture in Turkey's relations with the West, with Ankara pursuing American F-16 fighter jets and the US and Europe pressing Turkey on Sweden's NATO accession. The evolving scenario underscores the intricate balance Turkey maintains in its international relations and trade.


Subscribe to our newsletter and follow us on X/Twitter.

Great! You’ve successfully signed up.

Welcome back! You've successfully signed in.

You've successfully subscribed to REX Wire.

Success! Check your email for magic link to sign-in.

Success! Your billing info has been updated.

Your billing was not updated.