Russia’s embassy in the United Kingdom is trolling Turkey on Twitter.
Its photos posted recently include alleged ISIS oil-smuggling routes in the country, images linking Turkey’s president to the militants, and a cartoon of an octopus grabbing fistfuls of cash.
Since Turkey shot down a Russian jet last month, relations between the two countries has been in a state of near free fall.
And on Wednesday, the Russian Ministry of Defence presented the most potentially damning charge against Ankara — that Turkey, under the lead of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his family, was participating in and facilitating the ISIS oil trade.
Russia posits that ISIS moves its oil into Turkey through three border crossings: two in Syria, and one in Iraq. However, experts have called the evidence into question, as all three regions are controlled by Kurdish groups who are currently battling against ISIS militants.
Relations between the various Kurdish groups and Turkey are also highly strained, lending further implausibility to the idea that Turkey is buying oil from ISIS via Kurdish groups.
Still, despite the paucity of direct evidence, Russia’s embassy in the UK has been tweeting the past week alleging Turkey’s direct links to ISIS. On Tuesday, leading up to the Ministry of Defence’s announcement of evidence, the embassy tweeted that Turkey shot down Russia’s plane in order to defend its ISIS oil links.
Then on Wednesday, the embassy followed up with another tweet that featured both a map showcasing ISIS’s oil routes in Turkey (which explicitly pass through Kurdish areas of control) and also, bizarrely, an octopus grabbing cash.
.@RT_Erdogan put family members in lucrative posts in energy firms,plus graphic evidence of IS oil trade thru Turkey pic.twitter.com/Lj8srt6ad1
— Russian Embassy, UK (@RussianEmbassy) December 2, 2015
The octopus is likely a direct reference to the ongoing allegations of corruption against Erdogan and his family, as well as his family’s alleged role in supporting the ISIS oil trade. In 2013 and 2014, Erdogan’s government was rocked by a raft of corruption scandals. In response, Erdogan ordered a purging of the police force and the judiciary that effectively neutered any investigations against himself, his family, and his ministers.
In response to Russia’s assertions, Turkey attempted to hit back by saying that it also had evidence that Russia was involved in the ISIS oil trade. Ankara’s attempt to pivot the blame onto Russia was subsequently mocked by Russia’s embassy in the UK.
The Twitter trolling is the perhaps most innocuous part of the ongoing spat between Turkey and Russia. Russia has banned imports of select Turkish foods, and has threatened to unveil a package of further sanctions in the coming days.
Moscow has also encouraged Russian soccer teams to avoid recruiting Turkish players, and Russian universities have begun shuttering programs linked to their Turkish counterparts. Still, as The Economist notes, the sanctions and moves are largely ceremonial and may do little to actually disrupt the economy of either country.
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