Russian President Vladimir Putin told journalists at the G-20 summit in Turkey that funding for ISIS comes from 40 different nations, including members of the Group of 20.
“I provided examples based on our data on the financing of different Islamic State units by private individuals. This money, as we have established, comes from 40 countries, and there are some of the G-20 members among them,” said Putin, as reported by Hurriyet Daily News.
“I’ve shown our colleagues photos taken from space and from aircraft which clearly demonstrate the scale of the illegal trade in oil and petroleum products,” he continued. “The motorcade of refueling vehicles stretched for dozens of kilometers, so that from a height of 4,000 to 5,000 meters they stretch beyond the horizon.”
Putin also claimed to have “established contacts” with members of the “Syrian opposition on the battlefield,” who asked Russia to conduct air strikes against the Islamic State’s infrastructure. Presumably these were not the Syrian opposition groups Russia is currently bombing.
“Some armed opposition groups consider it possible to begin active operations against IS with Russia’s support. And we are ready to provide such support from the air. If it happens it could become a good basis for the subsequent work on a political settlement,” the Russian president ventured, according to Russian state outlet RT.com. “We really need support from the US, European nations, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Iran.”
That happens to be a list of countries that have been trying to depose Bashar Assad, the dictator Putin seeks to keep in power. The Syrian regime, along with its Russian and Iranian patrons, has always portrayed rebel forces as “terrorists” and blamed nations that challenged Assad’s legitimacy for creating the Islamic State.
After the Paris terror attack, Putin is more eager than ever to use the menace of the Islamic State to realign regional politics to the Russian-Iranian vision. He took the opportunity of the G-20 conference to criticize the United States for being slow to get with the program.
“We need to organize work specifically concentrated on the prevention of terrorist attacks and tackling terrorism on a global scale. We offered to cooperate in anti-IS efforts. Unfortunately, our American partners refused. They just sent a written note and it says: ‘we reject your offer’,” Putin said. “But life is always evolving and at a very fast pace, often teaching us lessons. And I think that now the realization that an effective fight can only be staged together is coming to everybody.”
As New York Magazine notes, the tenor of these comments was considerably different from reports of a much friendlier dinner meeting between Putin and President Obama on Sunday evening, at which they supposedly agreed to let the United Nations broker a cease-fire in the civil war early next year, followed by a “Syrian-led and Syrian-owned political transition.”
In his remarks to reporters on Tuesday, Putin brushed aside criticism of Russia’s bombing campaign in Syria. “It’s really difficult to criticize us,” he asserted.
Complaining about the reluctance of other nations to provide the Russians with information on terrorist targets in Syria, he said they were “afraid to inform us on the territories which we shouldn’t strike, fearing that it is precisely where we’ll strike; that we are going to cheat everybody.”
“Apparently, their opinion of us is based on their own concept of human decency,” he snorted.
Although the Russian posture on the nature of the Metrojet crash in Egypt has been shifting toward a diagnosis of terrorism, Putin said in Turkey that it was still to early to reach a “final conclusion.”
“It’s a huge emotional pain for all of us, for all Russian people, no matter what the cause of the crash was,” he said.