G20 press conference of Vladimir Putin: ISIS oil convoys “stretching for dozens of kilometers”, ISIS funding from 40 countries including G20

Vladimir Putin answered journalists’ questions after the G20 summit.

Vladimir Putin answered journalists’ questions after the G20 summit.
Vladimir Putin answered journalists’ questions after the G20 summit.

On ISIS funding:

We have established that financing is coming from 40 countries, including G20 countries. We discussed this issue.

On ISIS oil trade and how easy it is to strike ISIS:

I also showed our colleagues satellite images and aerial photographs that show very clearly the scale of this illegal trade in oil and petroleum products. You see columns of refuelling vehicles stretching for dozens of kilometres in lines so long that from a height of 4,000–5,000 metres they vanish over the horizon. It really looks more like an oil pipeline system.

On Ukraine’s $3 billion debt to Russia:

Our partners from the IMF have been convincing us that we could accept to restructure Ukraine’s debt of $3 billion, which was to have been paid by the end of next month, the end of this year… We were asked to defer this payment of $3 billion to next year. I said that we are ready to accept a deeper restructuring with no payment this year, a payment of $1 billion next year, $1 billion in 2017, and $1 billion in 2018. But our partners are sure that Ukraine’s solvency will grow and that we can be sure of receiving $3 billion next year. If this is the case, they see no risk in providing guarantees for this credit.

We have asked for such guarantees either from the United States government, the European Union, or one of the big international financial institutions. We hope that this matter will be settled by the start of December this year, given the International Monetary Fund’s work timetable.

If our partners are that certain that Ukraine’s solvency will improve, persuade us that this is so, and believe this themselves, let them provide guarantees. If they cannot provide guarantees, this means that they do not believe in the Ukrainian economy’s future. I think this would not be good for them if this is so, and if they are trying to convince us of something that is not in fact the case, this would not be good for our Ukrainian partners either.

We think that this proposal is a realistic possibility and we see no problems in sharing the risks with our partners.

On fighting ISIS, US-led coalition, and Syrian opposition groups:

Question: Mr President, we frequently hear your western partners accuse Russia’s Aerospace Forces of hitting targets in Syria that are not ISIS, but are so-called moderate opposition groups. Did their opinion change over the course of the summit? What were you feeling during the discussions?

And the second part of the question. The US-led anti-ISIS operation did not succeed in degrading ISIS. What difference do you see between Russia’s actions in Syria and those of the US-led coalition, from a military standpoint?

Vladimir Putin: In general, this criticism was practically not voiced. It’s hard to even criticise us. They tell us, “You’re hitting the wrong targets!” Then we say, “Tell us where we should strike, give us the targets!” But they don’t give them to us. “Then tell us where we shouldn’t hit.” And they don’t tell us that, either. How, then, can we be criticised?

You know, I don’t want to sneer at this. Strangely enough, they have their own reasons for it. And one of them, I will tell you point blank, is that they are afraid to give us a list of territories not to strike, because they fear that this is exactly where we will strike, that we will deceive them. It seems they judge us based on their own notions of decency.

But I can confirm that right now (on the battlefield, so to speak), we have established contacts with some (not all, of course) of the uncompromising, even armed Syrian opposition groups; they themselves asked us not to strike the territories they control. We have reached these agreements and are fulfilling them.

Moreover, this part of the armed opposition believes that it is possible to begin active operations against terrorist organisations – against ISIS first of all – with our support from the air. And we are prepared to provide that support. If this happens, it will mean that President al-Assad’s army on one side and the armed opposition on the other are fighting their common enemy. It seems to me that this can become a good foundation for subsequent work and a platform for political settlement.

…now is not the time to assess who is better or worse, or look for reasons why the previous steps have been more or less effective. Right now, we need to look forward and join forces in the fight against this common threat.

The full press conference on November 16 from Kremlin.ru:

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good evening, friends, ladies and gentlemen,

Before we start these questions and answers, I want to thank the President of Turkey, Mr Erdogan, and all of our Turkish colleagues for the very professional organisation of the G20 summit. They created a very good, trusting and open atmosphere in which to work and discuss the issues that were the whole point of our getting together.

I want to thank Turkey’s people for their welcoming attitude to our work and the help that we received at practically every step.

Question: It would seem that fighting terrorism was one of the summit’s main subjects of discussion. We know that there will be no resolving this problem unless we take more effective steps to prevent the financing of terrorism. Were any concrete measures discussed at the summit? What was the line of discussion on these measures, and did you reach any agreements?

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