As fears that World War 3 will break out of the conflict in Syria, with even such mainstream media outlets at CNN and The Huffington Post asking if the conflict could not already be described as World War 3, Russian President Vladimir Putin escalated tensions Monday when he accused Turkey of buying massive amounts of oil from ISIS, helping to keep the terrorist group flush with cash.
But Putin did not stop there with the charges made at the global climate change summit meeting in Paris on Monday. Putin accused Turkey of shooting down a Russian warplane over the Syrian border on November 24 not because the plane supposedly violated Turkish airspace — but to protect the supply lines of ISIS oil into Turkey.
“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,” Putin said at the Paris gathering of world leaders. “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.”
The video below shows Putin in a press conference in France, saying the Russian pilots have observed the ISIS oil shipments into Turkey from the air.
Turkey President Recep Erdogan, also in attendance at the Paris summit, responded both by denying the charge by Putin, and by promising to resign the Turkish presidency if evidence emerged proving the charge to be true.
Saying that the Russian plane, part of Russia’s bombing campaign against ISIS and, critics say, other rebel groups in Syria, never posed a threat to Turkey, Putin acknowledged that Erdogan himself may not have authorized the shootdown, but that the tragic incident, which killed a Russian pilot and a Marine attempting to rescue the downed pilot, was “a huge mistake.”
“We buy from Russia, Iran, Azerbaijan, Qatar, and Nigeria. We won’t accept such slanders,” Erdogan declared in Paris on Monday. “The accusation that Turkey allegedly buys crude oil from the Islamic State is unacceptable, and to say it is amoral. You can’t just say things, you need to present evidence.”
Erdogan then tacked on his resignation pledge, if Putin’s charges were proven.
“If documents exist — let’s see them. If this fact is proven, I will not stay in my position,” the Turkish president said.
Immediately following the November 24 shootdown of a Russian Su-24 warplane, Putin accused Turkey of serving as “accomplices” to terrorist organizations.
— RT (@RT_com) November 29, 2015
But Erdogan pointed instead to the fact that United States recently imposed financial sanctions against the Russian businessman Kirsan Ilyumzhinov — best known as the president of the World Chess Federation, as well as for his claim that he was once abducted by UFO aliens — accusing the 53-year-old banker of helping the Syrian government get around international economic sanctions.
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Erogan alleged that Ilyumzhinov has dealt in ISIS-controlled oil in his alleged efforts to assist the embattled Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad.
Putin and Russia imposed economic sanctions against Turkey last Thursday in retaliation for the shootdown of Russia’s Su-24. Among the sanctions, Russia canceled an agreement with Turkey allowed for passage across the border between the two countries without a visa — an agreement that Putin said had been abused by terrorists infiltrating the two countries.
The Syrian civil war began in 2011 after Assad responded to pro-Democracy “Arab Spring” protests by using government troops to violently suppress the demonstrations, massacring protesters.
But what began a relatively straightforward clash between a repressive government and a grass-roots democracy movement quickly devolved into perhaps the most complicated conflict currently ongoing in the world, as numerous competing groups ranging from “moderate” anti-Assad militias to extreme terrorist groups, most prominently ISIS.
With the world’s superpowers including the United States and Russia now actively involved in bombing campaigns inside Syria, each with their own set of conflicting goals, many observers believe that if World Was 3 is going to start anywhere, Syria will be the place.
[Featured Photo By Mikhail Klimentyev/Associated Press]