Russia Accuses United States Of ‘State-Sponsored Gangsterism’ For Alleged Oil Smuggling Operation

U.S. President Donald Trump (L) and Russian President Vladimir Putin shake hands during a joint press conference after their summit on July 16, 2018 in Helsinki, Finland.
Chris McGrath / Getty Images

On Wednesday, a senior Pentagon official revealed that the United States is planning to send troops and tanks to protect Syria‘s eastern oil fields. The revelation comes not long after Donald Trump removed U.S. troops from northern Syria, which resulted in a Turkish attack on the U.S.’s Kurdish allies in the region.

Following the revelation of these plans, Russia is accusing the U.S. of “state-sponsored gangsterism,” Newsweek reports. According to the state-sponsored TASS news agency, Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov claims that the U.S. troop movement is part of a cover to protect U.S. oil smugglers who are avoiding sanctions for petrodollars.

“Tank trucks guarded by U.S. military servicemen and private military companies smuggle oil from fields in eastern Syria to other countries. In the event of any attack on such a convoy, U.S. special operations forces and combat aviation are immediately used to protect it.”

Konashenkov claims that a U.S.-controlled company called Sadcub extracts the oil, which is then smuggled to other countries, conflicting with U.S. sanctions. He added that Sadcub generates $30 million each month in revenue, and suggests that such revenue is funneled into U.S. private military companies and intelligence services via brokerage firms.

“To secure such a continuous financial flow free from control and taxes, the top officials at the Pentagon and Langley will be willing to guard and protect oil wells in Syria from the imaginary ‘hidden cells of the Islamic State’ indefinitely,” he said, later suggesting that the alleged operation is “international state-sponsored gangsterism.”

The news of Konashenkov’s comment comes after Michael McFaul, former ambassador to Russia, said that Trump is helping Russian president Vladimir Putin for nothing in return. McFaul points to Trump’s recent foreign policy scandals — his pressuring of Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelensky to find dirt on Joe Biden, plus the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria — and suggests that both have “personalized, privatized, and deinstitutionalized” the United States’ national interest.

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According to McFaul, Trump’s controversial call with Zelensky has damaged Washington-Kiev relations, and his withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria has not just caused a U.S. clash with NATO but left a power vacuum in Syria for Russia and Iran.

Per CNN, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Friday that United States troops are strengthening their position in eastern Syria and will remain in the country to defeat the Islamic State coalition. Esper’s comment came after Trump said Wednesday that the U.S. has eradicated the Islamic State Caliphate.

Initially, Trump reportedly wanted U.S troops to leave Syria while continuing to monitor the region and put troops in Iraq, but Iraq refused to let the troops stay on a long-term basis.