Russia: Turkish president benefits from IS oil trade
Russia's top brass yesterday accused the Turkish president and his family of personally benefiting from the illegal oil trade with Islamic State (IS) militants.
The accusations follow Turkey's downing of a Russian warplane near the Syrian border last week, which has set off an angry spat between the two nations that had developed close economic ties.
Speaking to dozens of foreign military attachÈs and hundreds of reporters in Moscow, Russian Deputy Defence Minister Anatoly Antonov said Russia has evidence showing that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his family were linked to the IS oil trade.
"President Erdogan and his family are involved in this criminal business," Antonov said. "We know the price of Erdogan's words ... Turkish leaders won't step down and they won't acknowledge anything even if their faces are smeared with the stolen oil."
Antonov claimed that IS militants make $2 billion a year from the illegal oil trade. Lieutenant General Sergei Rudskoi of the Russian military's General Staff said Russian airstrikes on the IS oil infrastructure in Syria had halved the militants' profits.
The defence ministry officials showed the journalists what they said were satellite images depicting thousands of trucks carrying oil from IS-occupied areas in Syria and Iraq into Turkey. They did not, however, provide any evidence to back up the claims of personal involvement of Erdogan and his family in the illegal oil trade.
The Turkish president has denied Turkey's involvement in oil trade with the IS, and has said repeatedly that he would resign if Russia proves its accusations.