Russia’s defence ministry has accused the family of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of being directly involved in the trade of petroleum with the Islamic State group, BBC reports. Deputy Defence Minister Anatoly Antonov said Turkey was the biggest buyer of “stolen” oil from Syria and Iraq. Mr Erdogan has promised to resign if the smuggling claims are substantiated.
Russia and Turkey have been locked in an angry dispute since Turkey shot down a Russian jet last month. Russian President Vladimir Putin has already accused Ankara of downing the plane on its Syrian border to protect oil supply lines. “According to available information, the highest level of the political leadership of the country, President Erdogan and his family, are involved in this criminal business,” Mr Antonov told journalists in Moscow.
“The Turkish leadership has demonstrated extreme cynicism. Look at what they are doing!” he said. “They have invaded the territory of another country and are brazenly plundering it.”
The defence ministry cited satellite images that it said showed oil tankers travelling from IS-held territory to Turkey. The trucks, it said, travelled to three locations – including refineries – in Turkey and some was then moved on to a third country. Russia said it was producing only “part of the evidence” for now.
On Monday, Mr Erdogan challenged his Russian counterpart to produce evidence to back up the claim – and said he would resign if it was found to be true. “As soon as such a claim is proved, the nobility of our nation requires [me] to do this,” he said. “I will not remain in this post. But I am asking Mr Putin, would you remain?”
After the downing of the jet Moscow imposed visa requirements for Turkish visitors, and placed restrictions on trade with Ankara.