Ankara was already grappling with high inflation like other countries when the war broke out, sending energy prices through the roof.

The last few years have been tricky for Türkiye's relations with Russia. They have backed opposing sides in the Syrian and Libyan conflicts and yet managed to cooperate on important geopolitical issues. 

Diplomatic ties hit rock bottom in 2015 after a Turkish F-16 shot down a Russian bomber. Moscow put in place a set of economic countermeasures, which included stopping Russian tourists from visiting Türkiye. 

Relations improved in subsequent years and Ankara bought a surface-to-air S-400 missile system from Russia despite opposition from the United States. 

But after Russian tanks rolled into Ukraine last month, Turkish policymakers faced a new set of economic challenges. 

“This could have ramifications because both Russia and Ukraine are important trading partners of Türkiye,” says Dr Oktay Tanrisever, an international relations professor at the Middle East Technical University (METU) in Ankara. 

"Türkiye imports commodities such as wheat from them. Russian attack will probably lead to a collapse of the Ukrainian economy,” he tells TRT World

Türkiye’s trade volume with the two countries was around $41 billion last year - a major chunk of which consisted of what Ankara paid for Russian gas. 

When it comes to the countries from which Türkiye imports goods and services, Russia comes second only to China. In turn, Russia is the tenth largest export market of Turkish goods such as tomatoes and apricots. 

That the war could have negative consequences at a time when the global economy was only beginning to recover from the impact of the pandemic has worried officials. 

If the conflict dragged on, it could have an impact on Türkiye’s economy, finance minister Nureddin Nebati said last week. 

“Of course, the duration and size of the war are important in the impact of this undesired geopolitical tension on our economy,” Nebati told Anadolu Agency (AA).

“It is our greatest wish that this war ends as soon as possible.”

The sanction labyrinth

Led by the US, a host of developed nations, including the European Union and the UK, have imposed debilitating financial sanctions on Russia. 

Russian banks have been kicked out of the SWIFT international payment system, making it difficult for traders to make and receive payments. 

This is particularly worrying for Turkish hotels that had booked reservations from Russian tourists and now face difficulty receiving payments. 

Russian tourists have for years spent summer holidays at seaside resorts in places like Antalya. 

Some 4.7 million Russians and 2.1 million Ukrainians tourists visited Türkiye last year, according to the Culture and Tourism Ministry data. Altogether 29 million tourists arrived in Türkiye in 2021. 

Before the pandemic, tourism accounted for 10 percent of Türkiye's economic output. As Russian and Ukrainian tourists cancel trips, restaurant and hotel owners are feeling the pinch

In 2019, 51 million tourists visited Türkiye, the industry earned $34.5 billion besides giving jobs to tens of thousands people. 

While the sanctions have not directly hit Russian energy infrastructure, the fear of getting caught up in the sanctions web has forced traders to avoid booking Russian oil shipments. 

Türkiye has refused to join Western countries in imposing tough sanctions on Russia, the world's third-largest oil exporter. It has also refrained from using the aggressive language which some European countries have adopted. 

The fallout of the war and sanctions is driving up the energy prices and making things complicated for Türkiye, which was already grappling with high inflation like other countries. 

“Türkiye's inflation, which is already high, will go higher as oil prices increase,” Matthew Bryza, a former US diplomat, tells TRT World

Oil jumped to $139 a barrel at one point on Monday - a 14 year high - indicating the uncertainty and potential surge in coming weeks.

Natural gas prices have also hit new highs and added to the woes of European consumers who have already seen a hike in energy bills. 

As far as natural gas is concerned, Türkiye won’t take an immediate hit since its supply has been secured under longer term contracts, says Bryza. 

In a bid to ease pressure off oil, the US has reached out to Venezuela and there are reports of a possible nuclear deal with Iran - both countries are major oil producers and have faced Washington’s wrath in the past . 

But there hasn't been much movement on improving trade and economic ties with Türkiye, a NATO ally, which in the words of some experts has done more than many Western countries to help Ukraine. 

“I  have been surprised for the last two years that Türkiye has received so little recognition for how important its military capabilities are for all of NATO,” says Bryza . 

Source: TRT World