Center for Research on Energy and Clean Air: Turkey helping Russia evade sanctions

ANAKRA — The Finnish Center for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA) revealed that Turkey is helping Russia evade international sanctions by opening a bypass route for the export of Russian oil to the European Union. The latest report — EU Fossil Fuel Payments to Russia Fall Below Pre-Invasion Level in October: Türkiye Provides a New Outlet for Russian Crude Oil — released by CREA indicated that the European Union is not serious about implementing the sanctions against Russia and its turning a blind-eye to Turkey’s role in evading sanctions is evidence of this.

CREA confirmed that Turkey’s behavior represents a loophole in the sanctions imposed on Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine. Russia is still achieving large revenues, albeit below previous levels, from its fossil energy exports, according to the report.

The report also revealed the European Union’s lack of seriousness in implementing sanctions, given what observers see as contributing to the illegal supply of fuel to Europe.

This is not the first time Turkey has played a role in helping international pariah states evade sanctions.

In 2013, a scheme by prominent Turkish and Iranian businessmen and government officials to evade sanctions was uncovered by US authorities. Money from Turkish public bank Halkbank was transferred to front companies in China and Turkey who then purchased gold which was transferred to Iran via Dubai.

Involved in the scheme were Iranian-Turkish businessman Reza Zarrab, Iranian billionaire Babak Zanjani, the sons of three Turkish ministers (Erdogan Bayraktar, Muammer Güler, and Zafer Alayan), and Egemen Baş.

Mehmet Hakan Atilla, an executive at Halkbank, was charged with working with Reza Zarrab to conceal the true nature of transactions made on behalf of Iran and other Iranian entities in order to deceive US financial institutions and conduct transactions that were prohibited by American sanctions.

Atilla was found guilty of conspiring to breach Iranian sanctions and bank fraud in 2018.