Western countries are putting pressure on Turkish banks to stop accepting cards of the Russian Mir payment system, UK newspaper the Financial Times reported on Sept. 15.
The United States and EU are increasing pressure on Turkey over concerns that the country's banking sector is a potential loophole through which Russia can evade sanctions.
The United States has focused its attention on Turkish banks that work with the Russian payment system Mir, the newspaper noted. At the same time, Brussels is preparing a delegation to express its concerns directly to Turkish officials.
“We will send a very clear signal that financial institutions of third countries should not connect to the Mir payment network, because, as you know, this involves some risks of evading sanctions,” said one of the publication’s sources.
The pressure on Turkey has come as Western countries have shifted from imposing new sanctions to tightening restrictions that are already in place.
“We need to close the loopholes,” another FT source said.
In total, five large Turkish banks are connected to Russia’s Mir payment system– Vakıfbank, Ziraat Bank, İş Bank, DenizBank and Halkbank.
Two of them, the private bank DenizBank, owned by the UAE, and the state-controlled Halkbank, even connected to the Mir system after the start of a full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine in late February.
In addition to Turkey, measures against potential sanction evasion loopholes are targeted at countries in the Caucasus, Central Asia and the Persian Gulf, officials said.
In March of this year, the Visa and MasterCard payment systems stopped working in Russia.
The cards of these payment systems work only within the country. These companies will not issue new cards in Russia.