The United States is pressuring Türkiye to stop Russian and Belarusian airlines from operating flights on Boeing aircraft, sources close to the matter have told The Wall Street Journal, as Washington seeks to enforce sanctions imposed on Moscow after its invasion of Ukraine last February.

The sources said that senior US officials warned last month that individuals in Türkiye face fines, prison terms, loss of export privileges, and other punishments if they continue to refuel and supply spare parts to American-made planes flying to and from Russia and Belarus.

Thea D Rozman Kendler, assistant secretary of commerce for export administration at the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS), reminded Turkish officials during a visit in December that providing such services violates export controls imposed on Russian, Belarusian, and Iranian transport companies, the insiders added.

How Türkiye reacts to this warning will demonstrate how strictly the United States and its allies can isolate Russia in the long term, according to the newspaper. It comes as South Africa also reportedly considers allowing Russian flights to land at Johannesburg O.R. Tambo and Cape Town International.

Since October 1, Russian carriers have operated more than 2,000 flights to Türkiye on Boeing aircraft. According to the ch-aviation capacities module, nine Russian airlines - Aeroflot and its subsidiaries Pobeda and Rossiya, Azimuth, Azur Air, Ikar (Russian Federation) (formerly Pegas Fly), IrAero, Red Wings Airlines, and UTair - currently operate 54 scheduled and charter routes between Russia and Türkiye, while Turkish Airlines, Corendon Airlines, and Pegasus Airlines also connect the two countries. Belarus’s Belavia operates 10x weekly between Minsk National and Istanbul Airport.

Airports and airlines in Türkiye have not yet received instructions regarding the non-admission of flights from Russia, a source told the news agency RIA Novosti. Turkey’s Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure, meanwhile, said it was investigating the information.