Ankara has rushed into the vacuum created by US-EU embargoes against Moscow, and Brussels is angry
The value and volume of Turkey’s exports to Russia have increased significantly from 2021 levels, as Turkish companies rush to serve the market abandoned by US and European companies. Officials in Brussels told the Financial Times on Tuesday that it was “not nice” and “not really appropriate” but recognized that there is not much they can do about it.
The latest statistics from the Turkish Ministry of Commerce show that exports to Russia amounted to more than $2 billion between May and July, which is $642 million more than the same period last year. In July alone, the value of exports rose 75% year-over-year, from $417 million to $730 million. This was the largest increase in Turkish exports in the world. Russia now accounts for 3.9% of all Turkish exports, up from 2.6% last July.
Ankara’s exports to the United States also increased by 25 percent and the total export value is 13 percent higher than last year, Turkey’s Commerce Ministry noted. This is partly due to continued inflation devaluing the Turkish lira – but also to the embargo against Russia led by the US and its EU allies, in which Turkey has refused to participate.
“It’s on our radar” said an EU official who spoke to FT on condition of anonymity. “It is not pleasant and is not well perceived by the EU. It’s an irritant. »
Some EU capitals have reportedly inquired with Ankara about Turkey’s relations with Russia. Russian President Vladimir Putin hosted his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Sochi earlier this month.
Erdogan is pursuing what he calls a “balance” approach to the conflict in Ukraine, selling combat drones to kyiv while maintaining economic ties with Moscow. Turkish officials and business leaders have openly seized the opportunities created by the sanctions-driven exodus of American and European companies from the Russian market.
At a time when the EU is “reduce its ties with Russia” on the conflict in Ukraine, “it is not really appropriate to increase ties or engagement with Moscow”, said Peter Stano, chief spokesman for the EU’s diplomatic service.
As upset as Brussels officials are about Turkey, they recognize that there is not much they can do about it.
“It’s Turkey, everyone [in the EU] needs them, for one reason or another”, an EU official, who also requested anonymity, told FT. “And the EU needs to be aware of its capabilities…we can’t just say [Erdogan] he has to follow our rules.