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ISTANBUL: Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan was quoted as saying on Thursday he will meet with economy officials to discuss alternatives to the Russian Mir payment system, as the U.S. cracks down on those accused of helping Moscow skirt sanctions.

Erdogan’s comments come after two Turkish banks said they are suspending the use of Mir this week, reflecting their effort to avoid the financial cross-fire between the West and Russia.

Reuters reported earlier on Thursday that a high level economy-focused meeting will be held on Friday to discuss the Mir system, as well as the recent volatility in the Istanbul stock exchange and the general economic situation.

Officials are discussing possible alternatives to the Mir system, Turkish broadcaster NTV cited Erdogan as saying. “What can the alternatives be? My ministers are dicussing these alternatives,” he said, adding that a final decision will be taken at a meeting on Friday.

US warns of sanctions against Turkey over Russia ties

NATO member Ankara opposes Western sanctions on Russia on principal and has close ties with both Moscow and Kyiv, its Black Sea neighbours. It also condemned Russia’s invasion and sent armed drones to Ukraine as part of its diplomatic balance.

Erdogan said the measures would not be befitting of friendly economic relations with Russia but that steps had to be taken “whether we like it or not” due to sanctions.

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