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Turkey is becoming safe haven for Russians fleeing sanctions, draft orders

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Russians fleeing the impact of sanctions and President Vladimir Putin’s partial mobilization have found a safe haven in Turkey, indicated by an increase in the number of Russian-owned companies in the country and the traffic real estate websites receive from Russia, according to local media reports.

According to a report by the Türkiye news website, the number of Russian-owned companies in Turkey reached 720 in the first six months of 2022 compared to 29 in 2018, 27 in 2019, 33 in 2020 and 39 in 2021.

NATO member Ankara opposes Western sanctions on Russia on principle and has close ties with both Moscow and Kyiv, its Black Sea neighbors. It also condemned Russia’s invasion and has sold combat drones to Ukraine as part of its diplomatic balancing act.

The country has used that position to sign a series of economic agreements with Russia that have helped shore up its ailing economy ahead of the 2023 elections in which Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will struggle to extend his two-decade rule.

Russians have shifted their investments to Turkey due to the Western sanctions, and they trade with Europe through Turkey, Türkiye said, citing players in the market.

According to the Türkiye report, logistics, petrochemicals, iron and steel, automotive and textiles are the leading sectors for Russian investment in Turkey.

Investment is not all that’s arriving in Turkey from Russia, with a stream of Russians pouring into Istanbul last week after Russia declared the partial mobilization.

President Vladimir Putin’s mobilization order is designed to fill Russia’s military with hundreds of thousands of men after a string of setbacks that appears to have changed the tide in the seven-month war.

According to a report by the Dünya news website, an already growing Russian demand for housing in Turkey was reinvigorated after Putin’s mobilization call.

The number of Russians seeking housing on Turkish real estate websites had increased by 94 percent on Sept. 24 compared to the previous week, according to the Dünya report.

“Russian interest in real estate continues to grow. In the first 24 days of September, we recorded a 23 percent increase in real estate searches compared to the previous month. In the last week, the increase has accelerated. On Sept. 24, we had 94 percent more visitors from Russia than the previous week,” real estate website Emlakjet.com CEO Tolga İdikat was quoted by Dünya as saying.

Wealthy Russians are pouring money into real estate in Turkey, seeking a safe haven from the repercussions of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, many property management companies say.

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