LE BOURGET: Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday accused Ankara of shooting down a Russian warplane last week to protect supplies of oil from the militant Islamic State group to Turkey.
“We have every reason to think that the decision to shoot down our plane was dictated by the desire to protect the oil supply lines to Turkish territory, right to the ports where it is loaded onto tankers,” Putin said during a news conference on the fringes of UN climate talks near Paris.
“We have received additional information which unfortunately confirms that this oil, produced in areas controlled by the Islamic State and other terrorist organisations, is transported on an industrial scale to Turkey.”
After the Su-24 bomber was downed on the Syrian border last week, Putin accused the Turks of being “accomplices of terrorists” and said oil from IS territory was being exported through Turkey.
Revenues from selling oil constitute one of the main sources of income for IS, which controls large areas of Syria and Iraq.
Putin said most of the counterparts he had spoken to at the climate conference, which began Monday and is being attended by around 150 world leaders, agreed it was “not necessary” for Turkey to shoot down the Russian plane.
He said the idea of an international coalition to fight IS, a plan pushed by Moscow and France after a Russian airliner was brought down by a bomb and Paris was attacked by gunmen affiliated to the jihadist group, was seriously threatened by the Turkish action.
Little concrete progress had been made on the coalition as international powers struggle to agree what role Syrian President Bashar al-Assad should have.
“We will always support (the idea of a grand coalition) but we won't get there as long as some people use terrorist groups to serve their short-term political interests,” Putin said.