Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed he has confirmed that the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is trafficking oil through Turkey, and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday that he will resign if Putin’s claims are proven to be true.
After a Russian warplane was shot down by Turkey near the border between Turkey and Syria last week, Putin suggested it was done to secure illegal oil deliveries from Syria to Turkey.
During an annual climate change conference in Paris on Monday, Putin was quoted on the sidelines saying that Moscow has “received additional information” which confirms that oil from the deposit controlled by ISIS enters Turkey on an industrial scale.
“At the moment we have received additional information confirming that that oil from the deposits controlled by Islamic State militants enters Turkish territory on industrial scale. We have every reason to believe that the decision to down our plane was guided by a desire to ensure security of this oil’s delivery routes to ports where they are shipped in tankers.”
While the two leaders did not meet face to face, Erdogan did respond to Putin’s claims. He insisted Turkey receives oil and gas imports “through the legal path” and that they are “not dishonest so as to do this kind of exchange with terrorist groups.”
“Let’s remain patient and let’s not act emotionally,” said Erdogan, who went as far as to say that he would resign from office if Putin’s claims were proven true.
“I will say something very strong here. If such a thing is proven, the nobility of our nation would require that I would not stay in office.”
The shooting down of Russia’s warplane near the Turkish-Syrian border has resulted in conflicting accounts from Turkey and Russia. While Turkey claimed two Russian jets flew over a mile into Turkish airspace for 17 seconds after being warned 10 times to change their direction, Russia claimed that the jets never left Syrian airspace.