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Turkey denies exporting electronic technology used by the Russian military

Turkey denies exporting electronic technology used by the Russian military

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Turkey has refused to export technology products with military applications to Russia amid increasing US pressure on Ankara to limit its ties with Moscow.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu told a press conference in Ankara along with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken that it was “not true that products like electronics . . . used in the defense industry are exported to Russia by us”.

The comments came just weeks after a top US Treasury official traveled to Turkey to urge local companies to avoid transactions with sanctioned Russian companies and not sell products that could be used in Vladimir Putin’s war against Ukraine .

“If our US or EU allies have information and documents to hand, we want them to give them to us. And if there have been violations in these matters, we will do what is necessary,” Çavuşoğlu said on Monday.

Turkey, a NATO member, is not participating in international sanctions against Russia, prompting dismay in many western capitals. The country’s trade with Russia has boomed over the past year, but Çavuşoğlu said this was partly due to higher prices for Russian energy imports.

So-called dual-use products, typically electronics that appear harmless but contain components like chips that may have military applications, have become a concern for Western powers interested in disrupting Moscow’s ability to manufacture military equipment .

“Turkish companies and banks should . . . take additional precautions to avoid transactions related to potential transfers of dual-use technology that could be used by the Russian military-industrial complex,” Brian Nelson, the US Treasury Department’s undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, told Turkish bankers in Istanbul February 3. “The significant increase in non-essential Turkish exports or re-exports to Russia over the past year makes Turkey’s private sector particularly vulnerable to reputational and sanctions risks,” he said.

Companies caught trading with companies that are under sanctions or violating US and European restrictions risk being cut off from a part of the international financial system. In September, following pressure from Washington, several Turkish banks stopped using a Russian payment system.

Also on Monday, Çavuşoğlu reiterated Turkey’s opposition to Sweden’s accession to NATO. He urged international partners to persuade Stockholm to take more action to meet Turkey’s demands, saying Finland may be treated differently. Both Nordic countries are aiming to join NATO to protect themselves from future Russian aggression.

Sweden said it would distance itself from several Kurdish groups at the behest of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Erdoğan claims these groups have close ties to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, which is recognized as a terrorist organization by the EU and US. However, Turkey has been pushing for more action, including the deportation of Bülent Keneş, a journalist accused by Turkey of playing a role in the 2016 coup attempt.

Sweden’s Supreme Court last year rejected the extradition request, ruling that Keneş risks prosecution in Turkey for his political views, and Stockholm said it could not make any further concessions to Ankara.

Blinken said he remains hopeful that both Sweden and Finland should eventually join the alliance. He also expressed solidarity with this month’s major earthquake that killed more than 45,000 people in Turkey and neighboring Syria. Blinken said the US would provide $185 million to support Turkey’s relief effort, up from an earlier pledge of $85 million.

He added that President Joe Biden’s administration supports Turkey’s plans to modernize its fleet of F-16 fighter jets and that the White House has made it clear to Congress that this is an important issue.

The US pulled Turkey from its advanced F-35 fighter jet program in 2019 after Erdoğan bought Moscow’s S-400 missile defense system. Tensions between the two NATO allies have remained tense in recent years over both Turkey’s relations with Russia and Erdoğan’s inclination towards more authoritarian rule.

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