Turkey is the main consumer of oil smuggled by Islamic State from Syria and Iraq, and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his family are involved in the criminal business, Russia’s Defense Ministry has сlaimed.
“We are absolutely convinced… that the final destination of the stolen oil is Turkey,” said Russia’s Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov, as he presented proof concerning the illegal oil trade by Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) and Ankara’s ties to it.
“According to our data, the political leadership of the country [Turkey], including President Erdogan and his family, is involved in this criminal business,” Antonov told the journalists in Moscow.
READ MORE: Russia presents proof of Turkey’s role in ISIS oil trade
The deputy minister pointed out that Russia had warned about “the danger of flirting with terrorists” on numerous occasions, saying Ankara’s actions were “adding fuel to the fire.”
“A united team of criminals and Turkish elites, involved in stealing oil from its neighbors, is acting in the region. This oil in being supplied to Turkey on a large industrial scale via improvised pipelines composed of thousands of oil truck tankers,” he said.
Despite the evidence presented by Russia, Erdogan is unlikely to keep his promise to resign if his links with Islamic State and illegal oil trade are proven, Antonov said.
“The Turkish leadership, particularly Erdogan, won’t resign and won’t acknowledge anything even if their faces will be smeared with the stolen oil,” he stressed.
“We know the true value of Erdogan’s word. He has already been caught lying by Turkish journalists, who uncovered supplies of arms and ammunition to the terrorists by Turkey under the guise of humanitarian convoys. For doing this, the journalists were jailed,” deputy defense minister said.
Antonov explained his “harsh” tone by saying that “our guys were killed at the hands of the Turkish military,” referring to the downing of Russia’s S-24 jet by the Turkish Air Force last week, which led to the death of one of the pilots and a marine from the rescue team.
The deputy minister stressed that the release of evidence by the Russian military wasn’t aimed at forcing the Turkish president to abandon his post.
“I emphasize that Erdogan’s resignation isn’t our goal. It’s for the people of Turkey to decide. Our goal… is to curb the sources of funding of terrorism by joint actions,” he explained.
Antonov promised that Russia will “continue to provide evidence of Turkey’s plunder of its neighbors.”
He also said that Russia is aware of three main smuggling routes used by IS to deliver oil to its final destination in Turkey, providing satellite images to back his claims.
Erdogan said that no one had the right to “slander” Turkey by accusing it of buying oil from Islamic State and reminding him of his promise to step down.
The Turkish president, who was speaking at a university in the Qatari capital of Doha, added that he didn’t want relations with Moscow to deteriorate even further, Reuters reported.
On Monday, Erdogan said that he would leave office if there was proof of Turkey’s cooperation in the oil trade with IS.
“We are not that dishonest as to buy oil from terrorists. If it is proven that we have, in fact, done so, I will leave office. If there is any evidence, let them present it, we’ll consider [it],” he said, as quoted by TASS.