Russia transports huge volumes of oil through Türkiye to EU – Politico

Illustrative collage:

Through a loophole in international sanctions, Türkiye relabels Russian oil, passing it off as its own before forwarding it to the European Union, which has already helped Russia gain at least EUR 3 billion.

That’s according to Politico, Ukrinform reports.

The research done by the outlet and a number of think tanks, Russian oil makes its way into the EU in large volumes through Türkiye, and the existing path remains formally legal.

The scheme has become possible thanks to a loophole in sanctions, which allows the import of “mixed” fuel into the EU if it is labeled as non-Russian. In the 12 months since the EU imposed a ban on Russian oil and refined products in February 2023, it has brought in up to EUR 3 billion for Moscow through a scheme using three Turkish ports – Ceyhan, Marmara-Ereglisi, and Mersin – alone.

Before the full-scale invasion, three-quarters of crude oil and 40% of diesel fuel entered the EU from Russia.

Around the time when the EU banned such purchases, Türkiye began to gradually increase fuel imports from Russia, while at the same time increasing exports to the EU.

Over the last year, these numbers have almost equaled. In the period from February 2023 to February 2024, Türkiye increased fuel purchases from Russia by 105% on year. During the same period, Turkish exports to the EU soared by 107%.

Turkish refineries are able to process almost 1 million barrels of oil per day.

However, the geographical location of several Turkish ports, combined with import-export data, strongly suggests that significant volumes of Russian fuel were simply relabeled and shipped onward.

For example, the southeastern port of Ceyhan has limited road and rail connections to oil refineries, preventing it from receiving large batches of fuel except by sea.

Between February 2023 and 2024, the port received about 22 million barrels of fuel, 92% of which came from Russia – three times more y-o-y. During the same period, 85% of fuel exports from the port were delivered to the EU.

The same is observed in the western port of Marmara-Ereglisi and the southern port of Mersin. Both show similar annual hikes in Russian imports – doubling and tripling, respectively – which coincided with an increase in exports to the EU.

According to EU regulations, cargoes containing Russian fuel mixed with products from other countries may be subject to sanctions depending on the share of the Russian component.

In practice, however, experts say only a certificate of origin is checked, which indicates where the cargo physically comes from.