Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says he has proposed the joint management of oil fields in eastern Syria to Russian President Vladimir Putin, and has suggested that Russia and Turkey can manage the oil fields in place of the “terrorists” who control them at present.
Speaking to reporters during his flight back from Brussels on Tuesday, Erdogan said that Putin was evaluating the offer, which the Turkish president said he made during talks in Moscow last week.
“Deir Ezzor is another territory with oil reserves. In that province, terrorists exploit the oil resources. America has its own plans here,” Erdogan said, recalling the conversation. “I made the offer to Mr. Putin that if he gives financial support, we can do the construction and through the oil obtained there, we can help destroyed Syria get on its feet,” he added.
Erdogan added that he may make a similar proposal to US President Donald Trump.
“If such a step can be taken here, I can even make the same offer to Trump,” he said.
The Turkish president did not clarify what “terrorists” he was referring to, but Turkey is known to classify Syria’s Kurdish People’s Protection Units militias as terrorists linked to the Turkish Kurdistan Worker’s Party, a militia which has waged a low-intensity guerilla campaign against Ankara since the 1980s.
Moscow has not yet commented on the veracity of the Turkish president’s recollection of his talks with Putin.
However, on previous occasions, Russian officials have repeatedly criticized efforts by any country to violate Syria’s territorial integrity or plunder its resources.
In November, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov accused Washington of trying to separate eastern Syria’s oil-rich territories to create an illegal quasi-state.
A month before that, the Russian military released detailed intelligence implicating the US in a major oil-smuggling operation involving the CIA, the US military, private contractors and Kurdish militias.