Turkey Accuses Russia of Soviet-era 'Lies,' 'Propaganda'

Tensions continue to rise between Turkey and Russia as the fight against ISIS in Syria rages on.

Russia's top military officials hold a press conference on the fight against terrorism in Syria at the National Defence Control Centre of the Russian Federation in Moscow on December 2, 2015. Russia's defence ministry on December 2 accused Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his family of involvement in illegal oil trade with Islamic State jihadists, as a dispute rages over Ankara's downing of one of Moscow's warplanes.
AFP

Turkey's prime minister says Russian accusations that Turkey is profiting from oil trade with Islamic State militants are reminiscent of "lies" produced by the "Cold War-era Soviet propaganda machine."

Ahmet Davutoglu's comments Thursday before departing for Azerbaijan were in response to Russian military claim that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his family had personally profited from the trade, signaling that Russia-Turkey tensions over Turkey's downing of a Russian plane last week would escalate.

Davutoglu said: "No one believes the lies of the Soviet propaganda machine."

The Turkish premier said Turkey aimed to increase energy cooperation with Azerbaijan but stressed these efforts were independent of the spat with Russia.

Davutoglu added that Russian operations in Syria were hampering efforts to clear Turkey's border of ISIS militants.

U.S. State Department spokesman Mark Toner said on Wednesday that Washington rejected the premise that the Turkish government was in league with the militants to smuggle oil, saying it saw no evidence to support such an accusation. 

But President Barack Obama and other senior U.S. officials have also voiced frustration in recent days at lingering gaps in security along a roughly 100 km (62-mile) stretch of Turkey's border with Syrian territory controlled by Islamic State. 

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said on Wednesday that some areas were still not properly secured. 

Davutoglu said Turkey was doing all it can and is setting up "physical barriers" on that stretch of border. He said Turkey was working with coalition partners to try to remove Islamic State fighters from the Syrian side. 

"98 km of the border is under Deash control, physical barriers are being setting up here," he said, using an Arabic acronym for Islamic State. 

"Turkey is undertaking all kinds of work with coalition elements to remove Deash from the border in the period ahead."