Senior U.S. Treasury official traveled to Turkey to discuss sanctions on Russia

FILE PHOTO - Senate Foreign Relations Committee holds on Russian sanctions in Washington
FILE PHOTO - Elizabeth Rosenberg, Assistant Secretary for Terrorist Financing and Financial Crimes at the U.S. Department of the Treasury, speaks during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing titled, “Keeping the Pressure on Russia and its Enablers: Examining the Reach of and Next Steps for U.S. Sanctions” on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., U.S., Sept. 28, 2022. REUTERS/Sarah Silbiger

WASHINGTON, Oct 19 (Reuters) - A senior U.S. Treasury Department official traveled to Turkey this week to discuss sanctions and export controls imposed on Russia following its invasion of Ukraine, the Treasury Department said, as Washington closely monitors growing economic ties between Ankara and Moscow.

Assistant Secretary for Terrorist Financing and Financial Crimes Elizabeth Rosenberg traveled to Ankara and Istanbul from Monday through Wednesday, where she met with counterparts including officials from the ministries of finance and foreign affairs as well as representatives in the private financial and commercial sectors, according to a statement.

The Treasury said the meetings "affirmed the importance of close partnership" between the United States and Turkey in addressing the risks caused by sanctions evasion.

"During her meetings, Assistant Secretary Rosenberg covered a range of topics, including the sanctions and export controls imposed on Russia by a broad coalition of over 30 countries, energy security, anti-money laundering policy, and countering the financing of terrorism," the Treasury said.

Treasury and State Department officials engaged in talks with Turkish compliance officials, financial professionals, and government counterparts, it added.

Washington and its allies have imposed several rafts of sanctions targeting Moscow since its invasion of Ukraine, including targeting the country's largest lenders and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

U.S. Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo also traveled to Turkey in June to discuss the invasion and the enforcement of sanctions imposed on Moscow. read more

NATO member Ankara opposes Western sanctions on Russia and has close ties with both Moscow and Kyiv, its Black Sea neighbors. It also condemned Russia's invasion and sent armed drones to Ukraine.

At the same time, it has ramped up trade and tourism with Russia. Some Turkish firms have purchased or sought to buy Russian assets from Western partners pulling back due to the sanctions, while others maintain large assets in the country. read more

But Ankara also pledged that the sanctions will not be circumvented in Turkey.

The U.S. Treasury warned both the country's largest business group TUSIAD and the Turkish Treasury Ministry in August that Russian entities were attempting to use Turkey to bypass Western sanctions.

Turkey has said joining sanctions against Russia would have hurt its already strained economy and argued that it is focused on mediation efforts.

Reporting by Daphne Psaledakis and Humeyra Pamuk Editing by Chris Reese and Alistair Bell

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Humeyra Pamuk is a senior foreign policy correspondent based in Washington DC. She covers the U.S. State Department, regularly traveling with U.S. Secretary of State. During her 20 years with Reuters, she has had postings in London, Dubai, Cairo and Turkey, covering everything from the Arab Spring and Syria's civil war to numerous Turkish elections and the Kurdish insurgency in the southeast. In 2017, she was won the Knight-Bagehot fellowship program at Columbia University’s School of Journalism. She holds a BA in International Relations and an MA on European Union studies.