Several Turkish officials have ‘direct financial interest’ in the oil trade with the terrorist group DAESH, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev claimed as he hinted a possible Russian retaliation to Turkey’s downing of a Russian warplane on Tuesday.
Medvedev claimed that Ankara is defending DAESH because of the illegal oil trade and revenues Turkish officials receive from it.
“The reckless and criminal actions of the Turkish authorities… have caused a dangerous escalation of relations between Russia and NATO, which cannot be justified by any interest, including protection of state borders,” Medvedev said.
According to Medvedev, Russia is contemplating cancelling a number of important projects with Turkey and barring Turkish companies from the Russian market.
The damage will be hard to repair. It may result in key joint projects cancelled, Turkish business losses in Russia https://t.co/X4l061Atm6
— Dmitry Medvedev (@MedvedevRussiaE) November 25, 2015
On Tuesday, Turkish authorities shot down a Russian fighter jet over Syria, stating that it had violated Turkish airspace. However, Russia has claimed that no violation took place and considers such an act as a 'stab in the back' and direct assistance to terrorist forces in Syria.
After Moscow accused Turkey of buying oil from DAESH, Turkish authorities strongly rejected these claims.
On the other hand, according to the New York Times, a US official said that last year that the United States obtained multiple reliable reports that the Assad regime had bought crude oil with tanker trucks from DAESH.
The official also said the Syrian government had avoided targeting DAESH, especially in its headquarters Raqqa and elsewhere, although their positions are well known and clearly marked with DAESH's black flags and posters.
Turkey accuses Russia of bombing Turkmens, not DAESH
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday that the Russian warplane attacks on Bayir Bucak actually targeted Turkmens instead of DAESH, as there were no DAESH forces present in that region and said that these attacks only aimed to strengthen the Assad regime.
‘’We condemn the surging attacks on Bayir-Bucak region where our Turkmen brothers live and these innocent people are constantly bombarded by air strikes, also by ground forces. Therefore, they started to flee towards our Syrian border area,’’ the President said.
Erdogan also underlined that the Russian warplane was downed by Turkish air forces as a requirement of engagement rules to protect sovereign territory, and added, ‘’Everyone should respect the fact that Turkey has the right to protects its border.’’
— Turkish Presidency (@trpresidency) November 25, 2015
Erdogan reminded that the Russian jet entered Turkish airspace over the southern border province of Hatay despite being warned 10 times in five minutes before being downed.
Touching on the Syrian crisis, the Turkish president stated ‘’Everyone should realise that we cannot prevent refugee crisis or terrorism without providing a sustainable and fair solution to the conflict in Syria. We saw hopeful developments during Vienna talks; however, the regime leader Assad and his allied countries started to carry out attacks which were totally in contrast with agreements made in Vienna.’’
At least 5,000 Syrian Turkmen were forced to evacuate their villages and to flee to the Syrian-Turkish border on Friday night following an intense three-day aerial bombardment by Russia on their villages supported by a ground assault of forces loyal to Syrian regime leader Bashar al-Assad.
The assault targeted at least 14 Turkmen villages, resulting in civilian casualties, according to various media accounts.
After the downing of the Russian jet, the US president Barack Obama and France president Francois Hollande called Russia to focus on DAESH points.
Obama expressed "The US and NATO support for Turkey's right to defend its sovereignty.”
"This points to an ongoing problem with the Russian operations in the sense that they are operating very close to a Turkish border and they are going after moderate opposition that are supported by not only Turkey but a wide range of countries," Obama said.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg indicated, "We stand in solidarity with Turkey and support the territorial integrity of our NATO ally."