The Russian Kommersant FM radio station reported the news on Thursday, citing managers of a Russian logistics company and saying that Turkish customs is rejecting the transit of goods to Russia and Belarus that have been designated under the EU as sanctioned.
Bloomberg News cited a senior Turkish official on Friday, saying that Ankara had blocked the transit of sanctioned goods starting 1 March to comply with western sanctions.
Turkey has emerged, alongside the United Arab Emirates, as one of the countries providing an economic lifeline to Russia. The value of bilateral goods exchanged between Moscow and Ankara has surged about 200 percent as the war in Ukraine rages.
Ukraine war: How the Middle East is becoming Russia’s economic lifeline
But Turkey, a Nato member, has come under increasing pressure from the US and European countries. The White House dispatched a treasury official to both Turkey and the UAE in February this year to pressure them to cut commercial ties with Russia.
In the face of criticism, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu denied that Turkey was exporting technology products that could be used in military equipment in a press conference in February.
Middle East Eye reported previously that Turkey’s largest airport ground service provider Havas had warned Russian airlines that it may stop providing services to western-made aircraft due to Washington-imposed sanctions.
Ankara has maintained open dialogue with both Kyiv and Moscow since the start of the war in the hopes of positioning itself as a mediator.
Turkey condemned the Russian invasion of Ukraine – yet refused to join western sanctions – but still armed Kyiv with sophisticated weapons even before Ukraine’s western allies, including armed drones and other equipment.
Meanwhile, it has also occasionally stood firm against Moscow by closing the straights to the Black Sea to Russian war vessels in March.
But Turkey has benefited from its links to Moscow amid an economic crisis and surging inflation. Erdogan wants to position Turkey as a gas hub, potentially sending Russian gas to Europe. Russians have also become big buyers of Turkish real estate.
The US has also been cracking down on Middle Eastern partners like the UAE, which a top US official recently called a “country of focus” in Washington’s efforts to choke Russia’s ties to the global economy.