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Turkey Hikes Exports of Military-Goods Exported to Russia

A recent Financial Times article, based on data supplied by Trade Data Monitor, detailed the increase in Turkish exports of military-linked goods to Russia in the first nine months of 2023. This has magnified U.S. concerns over the trade of 45 “high-profile” items subject to export controls and heightened tensions with NATO partners.

The FT reported: “Turkey’s exports to Russia of goods vital for Moscow’s war machine have soared this year, heightening concerns among the US and its allies that the country is acting as a conduit for sensitive items from their own manufacturers.”

In the first nine months of 2023, Turkey exported $158 million worth of 45 “high-priority” goods to Russia and former Soviet countries, including Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan. That’s more than three times the amount exported over the same period in 2022. In a broader comparison across 2015-2021, the average total export value was $28 million.

The official trade data from Turkey has depicted a surge in exports to Russia and its former Soviet bloc allies. However, statistical agencies from those five countries have not reported a matching rise in imports, suggesting that items reported as destined for those intermediary countries may actually end up in Russia.

Goods classified as “high-priority” include microchips, communications equipment, and telescopic sights. Russia allegedly uses these goods in cruise missiles, drones, and helicopters. While Turkish exports of these goods have skyrocketed, their imports of them from G7 countries have also increased; during the first nine months of 2023, those imports were up 60% compared to 2015-2021.

Jaye Goodrich