At least $14.3 million worth of coal produced in areas of Ukraine annexed by Russia has been exported to NATO member Turkey this year, Reuters reported, citing data from Russian customs.
Between February and July 2023, about 160,400 tons of coal from the annexed eastern Ukrainian regions of Donetsk and Luhansk arrived in Turkey, the data showed. Three producers listed in the customs data confirmed to Reuters they had shipped coal from the two regions to Turkey during that period.
Unlike the United States and European Union, Turkey has not restricted trade with Russia or the areas of Ukraine controlled by Moscow. Washington has cautioned companies not to help Russia wage war against Ukraine or circumvent sanctions.
Since Moscow launched its invasion in February 2022, Turkey – a member of NATO that supports Kyiv’s efforts to repel Russia – has said repeatedly that it recognizes Ukraine’s territorial integrity. Ankara played a key role in mediating a now-lapsed deal between the warring countries that allowed Ukrainian grain exports via the Black Sea.
Turkey’s trade ministry and customs directorate did not respond to requests for comment on the shipments.
The data from a commercial trade data provider, reviewed by Reuters, showed that coal from at least 10 producers went to Turkey between February and July. Turkey was comfortably the biggest export destination of coal from the annexed regions, the figures showed, accounting for 95 percent of shipments during the period.
Turkey, a major coal consumer and importer, is bucking the global trend by increasing coal’s share in electricity generation. It produced 31.5 million megawatt hours (MWh) of electricity from imported coal in the first half of this year, up by a quarter from the same period of 2022, official data shows.
The coal sellers are registered in Russia and in annexed Ukrainian territories, according to Interfax news agency’s Spark database of Russian companies.
The buyers were companies registered in Hong Kong, the UAE and offshore jurisdictions including Belize and the British Virgin Islands, the customs data showed. There were no Turkish companies listed.
Reuters has not been able to find contacts for the buyers nor establish who the final beneficiaries were.
In November, Vitaliy Khotsenko, the then-head of the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR), said that the region was already exporting coal to Turkey, from where it went to markets in the Middle East and Africa.