Russia claimed Wednesday that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his family are involved in the illegal oil trade funding the Islamic State, in the latest attempt by Moscow to link Erdogan to the terrorist group following last week's shootdown of a Russian warplane that Turkey said violated its airspace after repeated warnings.
Moscow's defense ministry, in new allegations reported by Russian media, said that the top leadership in Ankara is involved.
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“According to our data, the top political leadership of the country - President Erdogan and his family – is involved in this criminal business," deputy defense minister Anatoly Antonov said, according to a report from RT.
The latest accusation follows a declaration from Erdogan that he would resign from office if Russia ever found proof of such conduct.
"As soon as such a claim is proved," Erdogan told reporters in Paris on Tuesday. Addressing the most recent development in Qatar on Wedneday, Erdogan said that no one had the right to "slander" Turkey by making such accusations, reiterating that he would resign if the allegations were proved true, according to Reuters.
On Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that his country had "received additional data which confirm that Islamic State oil ... enters the territory of Turkey," according to another Reuters report.
"The decision to shoot down the plane was dictated specifically by a desire to defend supplies," he said, according to the report.
The State Department rejected Moscow's assertion later Wednesday.
While acknowledging that oil smuggling has been an ongoing problem, State spokesman Mark Toner told reporters at a briefing that the latest allegation of Erdogan and family's involvement is "just untrue."
"Let’s be very clear of the allegations that were made today, which is that the Turkish government is complicit in oil smuggling from ISIL into Turkey. That’s the allegations that were made out of Russia today, and that’s what I’m rejecting," Toner said. "Whether there’s some illegal oil smuggling taking place around the border region, as I just said, that’s been something that’s been going on for decades."