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US sanctions Turkey, UAE-based entities it accuses of aiding Russian war effort

According to the US Treasury, the firms violated US export controls and helped Russia’s war effort in Ukraine
The US Department of Treasury building in Washington DC on 19 January 2023.
The US Department of Treasury building in Washington DC, on 19 January 2023 (AFP)

The US on Wednesday slapped sanctions on several entities based in Turkey and the United Arab Emirates which it said had violated US export controls and helped Russia’s war effort in Ukraine.

The firms were included in a new list of sanctions rolled out by the US Treasury Department against more than 120 targets across over 20 countries and jurisdictions. Those sanctioned include a Cypriot "fixer" for a Russian oligarch, a Russian-controlled bank in Hungary and entities associated with Russia’s state-owned nuclear company, Rosatom.

“As the Kremlin seeks ways around the expansive multilateral sanctions and export controls imposed on Russia for its war against Ukraine, the United States and our allies and partners will continue to disrupt evasion schemes that support Putin on the battlefield,” said Brian Nelson, US Treasury under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, in a statement.

The Treasury Department also imposed sanctions on Dexias, a Turkey-based industrial products firm allegedly used as an intermediary for Radioavtomatika, a US-designated Russian defence procurement firm. 

Azu International, which is also Turkey-based, was hit with sanctions as well and accused by the Treasury of facilitating the backfill of electronics to Russia.

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Washington also sanctioned Aeromotus Unmanned Aerial Vehicles Trading LLC and Hulm Al Sahra Electric Devices Trading, two UAE-based entities.

A US official told Reuters the sanctions targeted entities in Turkey's maritime and trade sectors that were "primarily" Russia-owned or Russia-linked, and that they are meant "as a warning shot in the evolving phase of enforcing export controls".

Many countries in the Middle East, including Nato member Turkey and the UAE, have been trying to find a balance between Washington and Moscow, as the US has been ramping up pressure to isolate Russia on the world stage over its invasion of Ukraine.

Last month, Turkey blocked the transit of sanctioned goods through its territory to Russia.

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The Russian Kommersant FM radio station reported the news, citing managers of a Russian logistics company and saying that Turkish customs is rejecting the transit of goods to Russia and Belarus which have been designated under the EU as sanctioned.

Bloomberg News cited a senior Turkish official as saying that Ankara had blocked the transit of sanctioned goods starting on 1 March to comply with western sanctions.

Also in March, some of Turkey's largest airport ground handler firms stopped providing services to western-made aircraft owned by Russian airlines, MEE reported.

Meanwhile, the UAE in late March reversed course and cancelled the licence of Russia’s MTS Bank, after a senior US Treasury official labelled the UAE a "country of focus" for Washington, as it looks to choke Russia's ties to the global economy.

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