Turkey's Erdogan Has Links to Islamic State Oil, Russia Says

  • Russia says Erdogan's family also linked to illegal oil sales
  • Defense Ministry says it can prove Turkish ties to terrorists

Russia intensified its attacks on Turkey over the Islamic State group’s illegal oil trade, directly accusing Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of involvement in the business.

Turkey is the main consumer of Islamic State’s oil and Russia has proof that “the highest political leadership of the country, President Erdogan and his family, are involved in this criminal business,” Russian Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov told reporters at a televised news conference in Moscow on Wednesday.

Erdogan has denied Russian accusations that Islamic State earns cash by selling oil to Turkey. On Wednesday, he again described the charge as slander, adding in comments made in Qatar that he was saddened by Russia’s “disproportionate response” to Turkey’s downing of a Russian warplane near the border with Syria last week.

“If the responses continue, of course we’ll have to take our own precautions,” Erdogan said in a televised speech from Qatar University in Doha. “We haven’t acted out of emotion up to now, and we won’t act out of emotion after this. We’ll act in accordance with the language of international diplomacy.”

Russia has imposed sanctions against Turkey, while its president, Vladimir Putin, has accused Turkey of being “accomplices of terrorism” and said the bomber was shot down to protect the illegal oil trade. The worst confrontation between Russia and a North Atlantic Treaty Organization member since the Cold War has complicated French President Francois Hollande’s efforts to forge an alliance with Putin and the U.S. against Islamic State following last month’s terrorist attacks in Paris that killed 130 people.

Islamic State earn about $2 billion annually from illegal oil sales and is spending it on recruiting militants to its cause as well as “weapons, equipment and armament,” Antonov said. Defeating Islamic State will require “a powerful, crushing blow to the sources of its financing,” he said.

Turkish defense attache Ahmet Hakam Gunes, who attended the 30-minute presentation that included what Russia said was video and satellite images of trucks crossing the border with Turkey, said that he had expected a military briefing rather than “political accusations.”

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