© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Turkey’s Ziraat Bank tower is seen in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, May 16, 2018. Picture taken May 16, 2018. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic
By Can Sezer
ISTANBUL (Reuters) -Turkey’s state lender Ziraat Bank has suspended use of Russia’s Mir payment system, Chief Executive Alpaslan Cakar told Reuters on Thursday.
The suspension comes as the United States cracks down on those accused of helping Moscow skirt sanctions and as Western nations grow concerned over increased economic ties between NATO-member Turkey and Russia.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan was quoted as saying last week that Turkey would have to take steps on finding an alternative to the Mir system, “whether we like it or not” due to sanctions.
Two private banks, Isbank and Denizbank, suspended their use of the Mir system last week after Washington expanded its sanctions on Russia, including targeting the entity that runs the payment system.
But Reuters had reported, based on sources, that state banks could continue using the Mir system, while offering more transparency and assurances to the West that it was not being used to circumvent sanctions.
Turkey’s two other state banks, Halkbank and Vakifbank, have not commented on the issue.
NATO member Ankara opposes Western sanctions on Russia and has close ties with both Moscow and Kyiv, its Black Sea neighbours. It has also condemned Russia’s invasion and sent armed drones to Ukraine as part of its diplomatic balancing act.
Uzbekistan’s UZCARD system said on Friday it had suspended the processing of payments via Mir cards.
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