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Turkey starts to reduce dual-use exports to Russia

Despite dual-use exports rising overall in 2023, a sharp decline was recorded in October and November amid visits by US officials to Ankara
Shipping containers are stored at a commercial port in Vladivostok, Russia, 14 February (Reuters/Tatiana Meel)
Shipping containers are stored at a commercial port in Vladivostok, Russia, 14 February 2023 (Reuters/Tatiana Meel)

Turkey began slowing exports of restricted parts and equipment to Russia last year, according to data released by the Turkish Statistics Institute.

Since Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, Ankara has walked a fine line on the conflict, refraining from punishing Moscow or joining western sanctions.

In fact, Turkish dual-use exports, goods that can be used for military purposes, to Russia was far higher in 2023 than 2022. Yet they began to significantly decrease in October and November, in comparison to the previous year. 

Middle East Eye examined 45 categories of sanctioned goods released by the Common High Priority List, which was created by Ukraine’s western allies and Japan.

Such Turkish exports dropped by 2.5 percent to $10.7m in October 2023 from $11.1m in October 2022. A more drastic drop was registered in November, where dual-use exports decreased by 32 percent, from $12.3m in November 2022 to just $8.4m in 2023, the lowest monthly total since August 2022.

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Turkey’s western allies, primarily the United States, have been pressuring Ankara to cut down exports of dual-use goods such as electronics, chips, semiconductors, printed circuit boards, communications and navigation equipment, and optical sights.

Forbes Russia, which first reported the drop, says that the drop cannot be explained by seasonal changes, as no such pattern was found during the same period in 2021 and 2022.


The data is also inconsistent with the general trend of Turkish exports to Russia, which was recorded as $807m in October, increasing to $905m in November.

The drop was registered as Washington twice dispatched the US Treasury Department’s Under Secretary Brian E Nelson to Turkey. In his most recent trip in November, Nelson was dispatched to pressure Ankara “to prevent, disrupt, and investigate trade and financial activity that benefit the Russian effort in its war against Ukraine”, as the Treasury put it.

The visits came after exportation of dual-use goods from Turkey to Russia saw a significant surge in 2023, increasing 81 percent to a total of $129m in 11 months from $70.9m in 2022.

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The Turkish commerce ministry declined to comment. But the other sources, who wish to remain anonymous, say Russia might have started to source such parts from China.

Turkey also began to comply with some western sanctions last year by denying service to some Russian airlines operating with US-made airplanes.

Turkish officials often say they won’t join the western sanctions but also insist they won’t turn a blind eye to Russian attempts to use Turkey as a base to evade them.

Alexey Belevitnev, managing partner of the logistics company Zilcon, told a Russian news website that banned dual-use goods could still be transported to Russia from Turkey through third countries, such as Iran and Kyrgyzstan.

“If there is a political decision, they can stop transit at any time, and even to third countries, because invoices are issued in any case to companies in the Russian Federation,” he said. “They see everything.”

Russian officials said earlier this week that President Vladimir Putin will visit Turkey in February to mainly discuss the Ukraine crisis.

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