Turkey is deepening trade ties with Russia despite Western sanctions against Moscow. Political observers say Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan can count on Russia to help ease growing
of Turkey’s economic problems as he faces another term in office next year. VOA Correspondent Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul.
Moscow recently sent five billion dollars to Turkey, citing the construction of a nuclear power plant in the country as the reason. And according to Russia, another ten billion will be sent in the coming weeks.
The introduction of the country’s hard currency, the dollar, is a welcome development for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan ahead of his 2023 re-election campaign, while the local currency, the pound, has fallen and inflation has reached nearly 80%.
“By helping Russia avoid sanctions, Turkey has a good amount of income for its balance of payments and this would help it (Ankara) to strengthen the lira, reduce inflation and Erdogan to win the elections,” says Timothy Ash, representative of “Bluebay” – financial company Asset Management in London.
To protect his close ties with Vladimir Putin, Erdogan has refused to implement Western sanctions against Russia. Earlier this month, in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, the two leaders held talks to further strengthen trade ties.
Since the attack on Ukraine on February 24 this year, Turkey has doubled its imports of Russian oil.
Russian oligarchs continue to moor their superyachts in Turkish ports, knowing that the Turkish authorities will not seize them.
Analysts say Mr. Erdogan has become a valuable ally of Mr. Putin.
“Turkey has become a de facto black knight. In academic parlance, this means a state willing to help a country subject to sanctions, at least to mitigate them. And Russia sees Turkey in this light, which can be useful in terms of developing its economic ties, while Western companies are leaving the country,” says Maria Shagina, from the International Institute for Strategic Studies.
Turkey and the United Nations brokered an agreement to export Ukrainian wheat to world markets, and its export operations are based in Istanbul. President Erdogan claims credit for reaching the deal, saying it was only possible because of his close ties with Mr Putin.
Analysts warn that the Russian president could use relations with Erdogan and Turkey’s growing dependence on Russia to circumvent Western sanctions on technology, putting Ankara on a collision course with its allies.
“In my opinion, what would create the divide would be high technology. In both the civilian and military spheres, Russia refuses high technology to damage its supply lines. And if Turkish companies are used to import banned goods to pass them on to Russia, that would require sanctions to be imposed on Turkey as well,” says Atilla Yesilada, with Global Source Partners, a firm specializing in financial markets in New York.
With Turkey suffering from a weak economy, sanctions, analysts warn, would trigger a devastating economic crisis.
At the same time, analysts say Mr Erdogan is “betting on Russia”, hoping Russian trade and support will revive his country’s economy ahead of elections next year.
Voice of America/Albanian