Connect with us


US warns Turkey on exports seen to boost Russia’s war effort



US warns Turkey on exports seen to boost Russia's war effort

The United States warned Turkey in recent days about the export to Russia of chemicals, microchips and other products that can be used in Moscow’s war effort in Ukraine, and it could move to punish Turkish companies or banks contravening sanctions.

Brian Nelson, the U.S. Treasury Department’s top sanctions official, visited Turkish government and private sector officials on Thursday and Friday to urge more cooperation in disrupting the flow of such goods.

In a speech to bankers, Nelson said a marked year-long rise in exports to Russia leaves Turkish entities “particularly vulnerable to reputational and sanctions risks”, or lost access to G7 markets.

They should “take extra precaution to avoid transactions related to potential dual-use technology transfers that could be used by the Russian military-industrial complex,” he said in a copy of the speech issued by the Treasury.

In the meetings in Ankara and Istanbul, Nelson and a delegation highlighted tens of millions of dollars of exports to Russia that raised concerns, according to a senior U.S. official who requested anonymity.

“There is no surprise…that Russia is actively looking to leverage the historic economic ties it has in Turkey,” the official said. “The question is what is the Turkish response going to be.”

NATO member Ankara opposes the sweeping sanctions on Russia on principle but says they will not be circumvented in Turkey, urging the West to provide any evidence.

Western nations applied the export controls and sanctions after Moscow’s invasion nearly a year ago. Yet supply channels have remained open from Hong Kong, Turkey and other trading hubs.

Citing Russian customs records, Reuters reported in December that at least $2.6 billion of computer and other electronic components flowed into Russia in the seven months to Oct. 31. At least $777 million of these products were made by Western firms whose chips have been found in Russian weapons systems.


Ankara has balanced its good ties with both Moscow and Kyiv throughout the war, held early talks between the sides and also helped broker a deal for grain shipments from Ukraine.

The trip by Nelson, the Treasury’s undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, is the latest to Turkey by senior U.S. officials aiming to ramp up pressure on Ankara to ensure enforcement of U.S. curbs on Russia.

The pressure has brought some changes.

Turkey’s largest ground-service provider, Havas, told Russian and Belarusian airlines it may stop providing parts, fuel and other services to their U.S.-origin aircraft, in line with Western bans, Reuters reported on Friday citing a Jan. 31 letter from the company.

In September, five Turkish banks suspended use of the Russian Mir payment system after the U.S. Treasury targeted the head of the system’s operator with new sanctions and warned those helping Moscow against skirting them.

Nelson urged the Turkish bankers to conduct enhanced due diligence on Russian-related transactions, and noted in the speech that Russian oligarchs continue to buy property and dock yachts in Turkey.

In separate talks with Turkish firms, Nelson “urgently” flagged the way Russia is believed to be dodging Western controls to re-supply plastics, rubber and semi-conductors found in exported goods and used by the military, the official said.

The person added that after taking steps last year to press Russia to end the war, the U.S. focus is now “on evasion and particularly evasion in third countries that we are seeing”.

Nelson delivered similar messages in the United Arab Emirates and Oman this week, the Treasury said.


‘At what cost?’ Ukraine strains to bolster its army as war fatigue weighs

‘At what cost?’ Ukraine strains to bolster its army as war fatigue weighs




'At what cost?' Ukraine strains to bolster its army as war fatigue weighs

When Antonina Danylevych’s husband enlisted in the Ukrainian army in March 2022, he had to line up at the draft office alongside crowds of patriotic countrymen.

There are no crowds now, she says.

Danylevych, a 43-year-old HR manager, gave her blessing when Oleksandr joined up with tens of thousands of other Ukrainian citizens to defy the Russian invasion.

Now she’s finding it hard to cope, with no end in sight. Her husband has only had about 25 days’ home leave since he enlisted and their two children are growing up without a father.


“We want Ukraine to win, but not through the efforts of the same people,” she said in an interview at her home in Kyiv. “I can see they need to be replaced and that they also need to rest, but for some reason other people don’t understand.”

Women on the home front have also had to become stronger, she added: “But at what cost did we become stronger?”

Her husband – a university lecturer with no prior combat experience who’s now a platoon commander – watched his son get married this year on his phone by video call from the ruined city of Bakhmut. His 14-year-old daughter misses her dad.

Almost two years into the grinding war, this family and others around the country are coming to terms with the prospect of a much longer and costlier conflict than they had hoped for, and one that some now acknowledge they’re not guaranteed to win.

This autumn, Danylevych was one of 25,000 people to sign a petition to President Volodymyr Zelenskiy saying that military service cannot remain open-ended and calling for troops to be given a clear timeline for when they will be discharged.

The campaign, which has included two protests by 50 to 100 people in Kyiv’s main square in recent weeks, illustrates a growing level of exhaustion among Ukrainian troops and the mounting toll that is taking on families back home.

Ukraine’s vaunted summer counteroffensive has so far failed to deliver a decisive breakthrough, both sides are dug in along largely static front lines and questions are being asked over whether foreign military aid will be as forthcoming as it was.


The country has relied on tens of billions of dollars in arms from the United States and other allies to sustain its war effort, but stockpiles of artillery shells are emptying and governments are cooler on sustaining previous levels of support.

Such protests would have been unthinkable a year ago when national morale soared as Ukraine beat Russian forces back from Kyiv and retook swathes of the northeast and south. Martial law, declared at the war’s start, prohibits public demonstrations.

Danylevych’s campaign points to difficult choices war planners face as they try to maintain the flow of recruits to defeat a much larger army amid steady losses, while retaining a big enough workforce to sustain the shattered economy.

Only Ukrainian men aged between 27 and 60 can be mobilised by draft officers. Men aged between 18 and 26 can’t be drafted, though they can enlist voluntarily.

Ukraine, which has said it has about 1 million people under arms, has barred military-age men from going abroad. Its constantly running mobilisation programme, which was declared at the start of the war, is a state secret. So are battlefield losses, which U.S. estimates put in the tens of thousands.

The Ukrainian defence ministry referred questions for this article to the military, which declined to comment, citing wartime secrecy.



This month, Ukraine’s military chief said one of his priorities was to build up the army’s reserves as he laid out a plan to prevent the war settling into a stalemate of attritional warfare that he warned would suit Russia. The plan focuses on boosting Ukraine’s aerial, electronic warfare, drone, anti-artillery and mine-clearance capabilities.

He added that Ukraine, like Russia, had limited capacity to train troops and alluded to gaps in legislation that he said allowed citizens to shirk mobilisation.

“We are trying to fix these problems. We are introducing a unified register of draftees, and we must expand the category of citizens who can be called up for training or mobilisation,” he wrote in rare comments published as an article by The Economist.

The recruitment process largely takes place out of the public eye. Draft officers stop men in the street, at the metro or at checkpoints and hand out call-up papers to them, instructing to report to recruitment centres.

Over the last year, social media videos occasionally surface showing draft officers dragging away or threatening men they want to mobilise causing public outcry.

Many Ukrainians have also been angered by a string of corruption cases at draft offices that have allowed people to avoid the call-up, prompting Zelenskiy to sack all the heads of the regional recruitment offices this summer.

Seldom does a week go by without a law enforcement agency announcing criminal cases against people including draft officials accused of taking between $500 and $10,000 to provide fake documents for people to shirk mobilisation or travel abroad.


At the River Tisa, which acts as the border from southwestern Ukraine to Romania, guard patrols used to focus on catching tobacco smugglers but now collar fleeing draft dodgers.

About 6,000 people have been detained trying to leave across that stretch, the border guards told Reuters. One of them, Dyma Cherevychenko, said at least 19 people had drowned trying to flee the country during the conflict.

“They died for nothing, died in the river when they could have contributed to the war effort,” the 29-year-old added.


The Ukrainian parliament has meanwhile been debating legislation that would stop people over the age of 30 using higher education as a legal way around mobilisation.


The number of men aged over 25 who booked places at universities in the first year of the invasion shot up by 55,000 compared with the year before, Education Minister Oksen Lisovyi wrote on Facebook in September.

Some voices in the West have suggested that Kyiv step up the scale of its recruitment by drawing on younger men.

Ben Wallace, Britain’s defence minister until the end of August, said the average age of Ukrainian soldiers at the front was over 40 and suggested it was time to “reassess the scale of Ukraine’s mobilisation”.

“I understand President Zelenskiy’s desire to preserve the young for the future, but the fact is that Russia is mobilising the whole country by stealth,” he wrote in the Telegraph newspaper.

David Arakhamia, a senior lawmaker and Zelenskiy ally, said on Thursday that parliament planned to draw up legislation to improve the mobilisation and demobilisation procedure by the year’s end.


The bill, he said on TV, would cover what to do with people who have been fighting for two years without rotation, how to demobilise soldiers who have returned after being prisoners of war, and also address “issues related to the conscription age”.


A temporary lull in major Russian missile and drone strikes on the capital over the summer made the war seem more distant, although that calm was shattered over the weekend as Russia launched its biggest drone assault on Kyiv of the war so far.

Some sociologists say a gloomier mood has set in nationwide.

They point to surveys showing declining trust in the government, which had surged in the first months of the war when Ukrainian forces repelled Russian advances. Zelenskiy’s ratings remain very high, although they too are down from last year.


Trust in the government and parliament has tumbled from 74% in 2022 to 39%, and 58% to 21%, respectively, according to Anton Hrushetskyi, executive director at the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology, a research organisation.

“We’d hoped to be in a better position this autumn than we are right now,” he told Reuters.

Hrushetskyi said other contributing factors were various corruption scandals and a belief that Western military supplies for Ukraine could and should have been more robust.

Danylevych is now preparing their home for what many Ukrainians fear will be another winter of Russian airstrikes that will target the power grid and energy system, causing sweeping blackouts and other outages.

“I feel depressed because I understand all the challenges of winter and if there is heavy shelling and there is neither electricity nor heating, I will have to face all these problems on my own.”

Her husband Oleksandr and his unit, Ukraine’s fourth tank brigade, couldn’t be reached for comment.


This summer Danylevych stumbled across a group on the Telegram messaging site that now has 2,900 like-minded people including wives, mothers and family members who banded together to campaign for the right of war veterans to be demobilised.

“A lot of the women are on sedatives and tranquilisers,” she said, describing a “very depressed” mood of resignation among them.

The group staged a first demonstration of around 100 people on Kyiv’s Independence Square on Oct. 27, after which they wrote a letter addressed to Zelenskiy to make their case. No police action was taken against them.

Dozens of them returned to the square for a further protest in the rain on Nov. 12. One held up a sign saying: “My husband and father have given others the time to get ready. It’s time to replace the first people!”

Continue Reading


Nearly 2,500 rescued after snowstorm in Ukraine’s Odesa region

Nearly 2,500 rescued after snowstorm in Ukraine’s Odesa region




Nearly 2,500 rescued after snowstorm in Ukraine's Odesa region

Nearly 2,500 people were rescued after a snowstorm in Ukraine’s southern region of Odesa, local governor Oleh Kiper said, adding that 313 settlements in the region were without power as a result of the bad weather.

Odesa region, which lies on the shore of the Black Sea, has been hit by severe snowstorms since Sunday, stranding vehicles and downing power lines.

“849 vehicles have been towed out, including 24 buses and 17 ambulances,” Kiper wrote on the Telegram app.

He said all those trapped by the snow since the start of the snowstorm had now been rescued.


Continue Reading


Thailand to allow clubs, bars to stay open longer to boost tourism

Thailand to allow clubs, bars to stay open longer to boost tourism




Thailand to allow clubs, bars to stay open longer to boost tourism

Thailand’s cabinet has approved a ministerial regulation that extends the opening hours of night clubs and entertainment venues in a bid to draw in more tourists, a government spokesperson said on Tuesday.

Entertainment venues, clubs and karaoke bars in Bangkok, Phuket, Pattya, Chiang Mai and Samui, popular tourist destinations, will be allowed stay open two extra hours until 4 AM, Traisulee Traisaranakul said.

Thailand’s Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin had previously said the new rules would start on December 15.

The tourism industry is a key driver of the economy, which has seen sluggish growth compared with regional peers, and which Srettha’s government is keen to revive with stimulus measures.


The decision to allow entertainment venues to stay open longer is the latest step taken by the government to boost foreign arrivals after the government in September waived visa requirements for Chinese visitors, a key source of tourists for Southeast Asia’s second-biggest economy.

Thailand has so far welcomed 24.5 million foreign tourists this year and is forecasting 28 million arrivals for the full year.

Before the pandemic, Thailand booked a record 39.9 million arrivals, with 11 million from China. This year, the government expects just 3.5 million arrivals from China.

Continue Reading