US Urges Türkiye to Stop Supplying Planes to Russia and Belarus amid Sanctions
The United States is ramping up its pressure on Türkiye to stop Russian and Belarusian airlines from operating flights on Boeing aircraft, sources close to the matter told The Wall Street Journal. This move is part of Washington’s effort to enforce sanctions imposed on Moscow after its invasion of Ukraine last February.
Senior US officials warned last month that individuals in Türkiye face fines, prison terms, loss of export privileges, and other punishments if they continue to refuel and supply spare parts to American-made planes flying to and from Russia and Belarus. The message was delivered to Turkish officials during a December visit to Turkey by US Assistant Secretary of Commerce Thea Rozman Kendler.
In response to the US’s warning, Turkish airport ground handler Havaş has warned Russian and Belarusian airlines that it may no longer be able to serve around 180 Boeing and other aircraft due to United States sanctions. The company sent a letter to Russia dated January 31 saying: “We are running a due-diligence process to identify the risks and consequences to our business and stakeholders. As a result of this, we may find ourselves unable to serve some or all of your flights.”
The US Treasury’s top sanctions official Brian Nelson also said the marked rise over the past year in non-essential Turkish exports or re-exports to Russia makes the Turkish private sector particularly vulnerable to reputational and sanctions risks.
The US Department of Commerce has declined to comment on the specifics of any warnings issued to foreign governments or individuals. However, the department did say that foreign aviation companies have recently been reminded of their legal obligation to comply with the sanctions.
How Türkiye reacts to this warning will demonstrate how strictly the United States and its allies can isolate Russia in the long term. Russian airlines are currently only able to fly to eight countries in the world – Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, UAE, Tajikistan, Turkey and Uzbekistan.
The warning to Turkey is a key test of whether the US and its allies can succeed in isolating Russia over the long term, or whether Moscow can find a way to continue economic activity with the help of third countries that are central to the Kremlin’s strategy of finding partners outside the West.
0. “Washington demands that Turkey stops allowing flights from Russia” Euro Weekly News, 27 Jan. 2023, https://euroweeklynews.com/2023/01/27/washington-demands-that-turkey-stops-allowing-flights-from-russia/
1. “US pressuring Turkey to end Russian flights with American-made planes: report” TurkishMinute, 27 Jan. 2023, https://www.turkishminute.com/2023/01/27/us-pressuring-turkey-end-russian-flight-americanmade-planes-report/
2. “Turkey May Not Be Able to Serve Russian Airlines” AviationSource News, 4 Feb. 2023, https://aviationsourcenews.com/analysis/turkey-may-not-be-able-to-serve-russian-airlines/
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