International News Writer
In the ever growing Islamic State crisis, a new conflict has broken out between Russia and Turkey.
On Wednesday, Dec. 2, the Russian defense ministry accused the Turkish presidential family of being involved in the “trade of petroleum with Islamic State,” according to BBC.
Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov stated that Turkey was the largest purchaser of “stolen” oil from Syria and Iraq.
President Erdogan later responded that Russia had “no right to slander Turkey with such claims,” according to Reuters.
Deputy Defense Minister Antonov expressed to journalists in Moscow that, “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,” and that the Turkish leadership has “invaded the territory of another country and are brazenly plundering it,” according to BBC.
He also states that “Turkey is the main consumer of the oil stolen from its rightful owners, Syria and Iraq,” as quoted by Reuters.
In an effort to reject these allegations, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, stated in Ankara that “It is not possible to explain Russia’s allegations by reason,” according to the BBC. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has also responded by saying that “no one has a right to engage in slander against Turkey by saying that Turkey is buying oil from Daesh [IS]”, as reported by BBC
This is the most recent set of accusations that have become a part of Russia and Turkey’s angry political dispute since Turkey shot down a Russian jet in November.
Russia remains confident in its claims, even going so far as to invite foreign journalists to the media briefings on Syria, a contrast to usual practices by the Russian defense ministry, according to BBC.
The journalists, along with military attaches, were shown images and video alike supposedly showing tanker trucks with oil crossing the border from IS-held territory into Turkish lands, according to BBC.
The BBC reports that Russian officials stated that they are only showing part of the evidence that has been collected against Turkey, and have not yet provided back up for their claims that President Erdogan and his family were involved.
Russian reports of Turkey buying oil from IS seem to be supported by statements given by US officials who have release information implying that Turkish “middlemen” were involved in illegal oil trade with IS, according to BBC.
However, Reuters reports that the US has rejected the idea that the Turkish government was involved with the militants to smuggle oil, and, according to State Department spokesman Mark Toner, “We frankly see no evidence, none, to support such an accusation.”
On December 1, President Obama declared that, though Turkey was making progress to seal its shared Syrian boarders, IS is still exploiting gaps that are being used to bring in foreign fighters and sell oil, according to Reuters.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, December 8th print edition.
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