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France’s foreign minister heads to Turkey to discuss Russian sanctions evasion

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France’s foreign minister heads to Turkey on Monday to emphasize to Ankara the importance of its firms not circumventing Western sanctions on Russia after the United States said Turkish businesses faced the risk of sanctions.

NATO member Turkey has sought to strike a balance between Moscow and Kyiv by criticizing Russia’s invasion and sending arms to Ukraine, while opposing Western sanctions and continuing trade, tourism and investment with Russia.


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“Europe has adopted sanctions, the United States too, and other allies and partners, but others haven’t adopted a sanctions policy, for example Turkey,” Catherine Colonna told RTL radio ahead of a two-day visit to Turkey.

“It’s important that these countries don’t serve as a platform to circumvent sanctions.”

Turkish firms have purchased or sought to buy Russian assets from Western partners pulling back, while others maintain major assets in Russia. Ankara has said Western sanctions will not be circumvented in Turkey.

At the end of August, however, US Treasury Deputy Secretary Wally Adeyemo sent a letter to Turkish authorities warning of the possible risk of sanctions if companies establish relations with sanctioned Russian entities and individuals.

A French diplomatic source said there were “temptations” among Turkish businesses and individuals to work with Russia and Colonna would discuss the issue to prevent such a dynamic gathering pace.

There is no EU mechanism dedicated to sanctioning specific entities circumventing sanctions, but the diplomat said if it were to become a major issue, the EU could study it.

“The first step before going down that road is to ensure our big partners, our allies in NATO and a country which aspires to EU candidacy status does not enter a logic of circumventing sanctions and uses its national tools to ... ensure its economic actors don’t enter this logic,” the diplomat said.

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