A worker pours molten aluminum from a crucible in the foundry at an aluminum smelting plant in Shelekhov, Russia. (Photo credit: Bloomberg)
European businesses are reportedly inquiring with Turkish companies about supplying Russia with metals via Turkey, as a way to overcome western sanctions.
According to the head of a Turkish industry group that spoke with Reuters, demand from Moscow for Turkish products it could no longer source from Europe has increased over recent months. European groups have also expressed interest in supplying Russia, using Turkey as a middleman.
“What [Russia] cannot buy from Germany, Italy, and France, they are buying from us. Separately, a lot of EU companies are planning to sell their products to Russia via Turkey,” Cetin Tecdelioglu, head of the Istanbul Ferrous and Non-Ferrous Metals Exporters’ Association (IDDMIB), told reporters last week.
“[The EU companies] want to use Turkey as a warehouse and bridge, while Russia wants supply from Turkey,” he added.
Turkey’s ferrous and non-ferrous metal exports to Russia rose by 26 percent since last year, reaching $170 million by 8 August.
After the Kremlin launched a military invasion of Ukraine in February, most western nations have imposed severe sanctions on Russia.
These sanctions have also created a dire energy crisis for the west; Europe is currently facing the complete shut-down of several industries due to the loss of Russian gas. The US, meanwhile, is dealing with runaway fuel prices and its highest inflation rate in four decades.
Despite its NATO ties, Turkey has sidestepped sanctioning Russia, choosing instead to deepen economic cooperation.
Last week, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan revealed that five major banks have started using Russia’s Mir payment system. Hours before this revelation, Erdogan made a deal with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, to make partial payments for Russian gas in rubles.
According to a report by the Financial Times, several western nations are considering issuing punitive sanctions on Turkey for its burgeoning economic ties with Russia.
EU officials, in particular, say they are monitoring Turkey’s cooperation with Russia “more and more closely,” expressing concerns that Ankara will help Moscow overcome western sanctions.