Alarm mounts in western capitals over Turkey’s deepening ties with Russia

Western capitals are increasingly alarmed about the deepening economic co-operation between Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Vladimir Putin, warning of the mounting risk that the Nato member state could be hit by punitive retaliation if it helps Russia avoid sanctions.

Six western officials told the Financial Times that they were concerned about the pledge made on Friday by the Turkish and Russian leaders to expand their co-operation on trade and energy after a four-hour meeting in Sochi.

One EU official said that the 27-member bloc was monitoring Turkish-Russian co-operation “more and more closely”, voicing concern that Turkey was “increasingly” becoming a platform for trade with Russia.

Another described Turkey’s behaviour toward Russia as “very opportunistic”, adding: “We are trying to make the Turks pay attention to our concerns.”

Washington has warned repeatedly that it will hit countries that help Russia to evade sanctions with “secondary sanctions” that target violations beyond the US legal jurisdiction; however the EU has been more reticent about doing this.

US deputy Treasury secretary Wally Adeyemo met Turkish officials and Istanbul bankers in June to warn them not to become a conduit for illicit Russian money.

One senior western official suggested that countries could call on their companies and banks to pull out of Turkey if president Erdoğan follows through on the commitments he set out on Friday — a highly unusual…

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