Coal valued at $14.3mn or more that was produced in parts of Ukraine under Russian occupation was reportedly exported to Turkey between February and July.
The conclusion that Turkey proved a willing market for the coal shipments from at least 10 producers was drawn from Russian customs data reviewed by Reuters.
The news service reported that in the six-month period in question, approximately 160,400 tonnes of coal from the annexed eastern Ukrainian regions of Donetsk and Luhansk was shipped to Turkey. Three producers listed in the customs data confirmed to Reuters that they had dispatched coal from the two regions to Turkey during the assessed months.
Turkey has not joined Western countries in imposing sanctions on Moscow or in restricting trade with Russia or areas of Ukraine controlled by the Russians. In fact, it has enjoyed something of a trade boom amid Russia’s switch to alternative export and import markets to make up for business lost with the countries that are mounting an economic backlash against the Kremlin for its decision to wage war in Ukraine. Last week, the US turned its sanctions fire on several Turkish companies, arguing that they were playing roles in helping Russia to circumvent sanctions. It is goods that can contribute to the Russian war machine that most concern Western sanctions enforcers.
Turkey takes a neutral stance towards the Russia-Ukraine war, seeking to maintain good relations with both Moscow and Kyiv on the basis that it is in a position to act as an intermediary in the pursuit of peace that would be trusted by both sides. However, Ankara has repeatedly stated that it recognises Ukraine's territorial integrity.
The report on the customs figures also concluded that Turkey was comfortably the biggest export destination of coal from the Ukrainian regions annexed by Russia.
The use of coal in Turkey’s electricity generation is on the rise despite the climate crisis and the global appeal for countries to cut their emissions into the atmosphere. Official figures show it produced 31.5mn megawatt hours (MWh) of electricity from imported coal in 1H23, up by around a quarter year on year.
The sellers who sold the coal shipped to Turkey are registered in Russia and in annexed Ukrainian territories, according to Interfax news agency's Spark database of Russian companies.
The buyers were companies registered in Hong Kong, the UAE and offshore jurisdictions including Belize and the British Virgin Islands, Reuters said the customs data showed. There were no Turkish companies listed.
The news agency was unable to find contacts for the buyers or establish who the final beneficiaries were.