A journalist known to be close to the Justice and Development Party (AKP) has claimed that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan suggested to Russian President Vladimir Putin during a phone call on Sunday the setting up of trade in gold and local currencies among Russia, China and Turkey to bypass Western sanctions imposed on Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine.
Russia’s war on Ukraine has been met with outrage from the international community since it began on Feb. 24, with the European Union, the United Kingdom and the United States implementing a range of economic sanctions on Russia.
Hürriyet daily columnist Abdülkadir Selvi wrote on Tuesday that Erdoğan recently said during a closed-door meeting of his AKP’s Central Executive Board (MYK) that he had made a business offer to Putin over the phone that would bypass Western sanctions on the country.
“We three countries, Russia, China and Turkey, can do business with our own national currencies, ruble, yuan and lira, as well as gold,” the columnist quoted Erdoğan as telling Putin.
Underlining that Russia has been one of Turkey’s key trade partners, with over 3,000 Turkish companies operating in Russia and Turkey hosting an average of 5 million Russian tourists every year, Selvi said Erdoğan’s offer of a “historic” move to “come to Russia’s assistance” would also “turn a crisis into an opportunity” for Turkey, which could also be indirectly affected by the sanctions.
“Would Russia, which is isolated from the world, consider Turkey’s trade option together with China? Why not?” the columnist added.
Commenting on Selvi’s column, German journalist Frank Nordhausen said US President Joe Biden would not be amused to find out that Turkey, a NATO member, suggested that Russia undermine Western sanctions.
So Erdogan seems to have suggested that Turkey should undermine Western sanctions? As a member of Nato? Joe Biden will not be amused. https://t.co/tvO0v4mRpC
— Frank Nordhausen (@NordhausenFrank) March 8, 2022
Erdoğan’s latest offer to Putin could send his already chilly relations with Biden into a deep freeze.
Among the main issues raising tension between NATO allies, Turkey and the US, are the former’s purchase of the Russian S-400 air defense system; the US refusal to extradite Turkish preacher Fethullah Gülen; and Turkey’s intervention in Syria in opposition to US support for the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG).
Erdoğan, who insists he will “not abandon either Russia or Ukraine,” has found himself in a delicate balancing act due to the war. Ukraine is Turkey’s closest post-Soviet ally in the region, and Ankara has so far wanted to show solidarity without triggering the full-blown ire of Moscow.
Turkey has offered to host talks between leaders of Russia and Ukraine and has refused to join sanctions against Moscow, abstaining during a vote at the Council of Europe.
But it also blocked warships from using the key Bosporus and Dardanelles waterways that Russia needs to access the Black Sea from the Mediterranean, and the use of Turkish Bayraktar TB2 drones by Ukraine in the war has also been a clear source of tension with Russia.