ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Around 1,250 trucks carrying Turkish exports have been blocked from entering Russia and are stranded at border posts awaiting clearance, a senior shipping industry representative told Reuters on Monday.
Six days after NATO-member Turkey shot down a Russian fighter jet in the first known incident of its kind since the Cold War, calls for calm have gone largely unheeded. Ankara refuses to back down and Russia responds with sanctions.
“Russia has not given permission to Turkish trucks for entry or transit passage for the past four days,” Fatih Sener, managing director of Turkey’s International Shippers Association (UND) said in an interview.
“Apart from the trucks waiting at the border posts, it doesn’t allow those that have entered the country but waiting to discharge their load at the customs. This is the case for Romanian, Bulgarian, Kazakh and Moldovan trucks carrying Turkish goods,” he said.
Both Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu have repeatedly said Ankara had no intention to escalate the incident, but both reiterated that Turkey had the right to defend its borders.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said he is waiting for an apology over the downing of an Su-24 warplane along the Turkish-Syrian border, and approved a round of economic sanctions against Ankara.
The decree, which entered into force immediately, said charter flights from Russia to Turkey would be banned, that tour firms would be told not to sell any holidays there, and that unspecified Turkish imports would be outlawed, and Turkish firms and nationals have their economic activities halted or curbed.
Trucks are stranded in Ukraine and Georgia for checks, which Sener says now are more thorough than before and that the economic cost of the delay since last Wednesday is around $50,000 to $60,000. Furthermore, a total of 800 containers are also waiting for clearance in the Turkish Black Sea port of Samsun and at the Russian port of Novorossiysk.
Around 100 trucks awaiting transit passage at the Russian border are now seeking alternative routes. “Azerbaijan has allowed entry and these trucks will go to Central Asia through this route, which is much more costly,” he said.
Turkey mainly sells food, agricultural products and textiles to Moscow and is also one of the most popular holiday destinations for Russians. Around 50 percent of Turkey’s exports into Russia, which totaled $6 billion last year, go by land.
Reporting by Ceyda Caglayan; Writing by Humeyra Pamuk; Editing by Nick Tattersall and Ralph Boulton