While the EU restricts trade with Russia with sanctions, Ankara is intensifying relations with Moscow. Economic relations between the two countries are better than ever. In Brussels, the development is being watched with concern.

The European Union is urging Turkey to change its trade policy with Russia and implement western sanctions over the Ukraine war. The deepening of economic relations between Turkey and Russia gives “reason for great concern,” according to a letter from the EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell to the EU Parliament, from which the newspapers of the Funke media group quote. Turkey’s continued policy “not to join the EU’s restrictive measures against Russia” is also worrying. But that is what one expects from an EU accession candidate.

According to the report, Borrell pointed out that the EU and Turkey form a customs union and thus grant free movement of goods, which also includes “dual use” goods – i.e. goods that can be used for civil and military purposes. It is important that Turkey does not offer Russia any workarounds, Borrell warned.

In the EU and the US, the suspicion has been circulating for months that Turkey is riddled with the Western sanctions regime. Turkey has massively expanded its exports to Russia since the start of the Ukraine war and is also increasingly buying Russian oil. In August, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed on closer cooperation. Apparently, Western companies are also using Turkey as a loophole to sell their products to Russia, according to the Funke newspapers. The US government has therefore already threatened Turkey with secondary sanctions.

Erdogan wants to speak to both Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy this Sunday. The aim is to “strengthen” the corridor for cargo ships in the Black Sea set up with the grain agreement, Erdogan announced. Mediated by Turkey and the United Nations, Russia and Ukraine signed an agreement in July to export Ukrainian grain via a corridor in the Black Sea. The agreement ended a months-long blockade on Ukraine’s grain exports as a result of Russia’s war of aggression. Ships en route to or from Ukrainian ports are checked at a joint center in Istanbul by teams made up of Ukrainian, Russian, Turkish and UN representatives.