The Russian Defense Ministry on Wednesday accused Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his family of profiting from illegal shipments of oil by ISIL in Syria.
“The main consumer of oil stolen from legitimate owners in Syria and Iraq is Turkey. Top political leadership of the country, President Erdogan and his family, are involved in this criminal business,” Russia’s Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov said in a press briefing.
Moscow’s aim is to block the sources of financing the terrorism, he added.
Ties between Moscow and Ankara have worsened drastically after Turkey downed a Russian jet for allegedly violating Turkish air space last week. Russia insisted that the jet had been in Syrian territory during the entire flight.
Soon after the incident, which Russian President Vladimir Putin described it as “a stab in the back.” Putin accused Turkey of patronizing illegal oil exports from areas occupied by terrorist groups.
Responding those allegations on Monday, Erdogan had said that he would be ready to resign if Russia managed to prove the allegations.
“If such a thing is proven, the nobility of our nation would require that I would not stay in office,” Erdogan had said on the sidelines of Paris climate summit.
Mikhail Mizintsev, head of Russia’s National Defense Management Center, continued to reinforce Russia’s view following that statement, arguing that the money from smuggling oil had not only enriched top military and political leaders of Turkey, but also financed militant recruitment as well as arms and munitions purchase of terrorists in Syria.
“Last week alone, up to 2,000 militants, over 120 tons of munitions and 250 automobiles were transferred from Turkey to ISIL and Al-Nusra groups in Syria,” said Mizintsev. He added that ISIL had made some 2 billion US dollars a year, primarily from smuggling oil.
Meanwhile, Russia has also said that its airstrikes in Syria since late September had destroyed 32 oil processing complexes, 11 oil refineries, 23 oil pumping stations and 1,080 oil tank trucks. That had led to slashing the profits of terrorists from illegal oil exports from 3 million to 1.5 million US dollars on a daily basis.